This is the fourth and final installment in the “Girding the Loins of the Mind” series, where I’ve been exploring the practical ways we can prepare our minds for action. We don’t want thoughts flapping about in the breeze when we must run, and we don’t want to pull an intellectual hamstring because our mental agility was impaired by a lack of support and strength. We’ve discussed prayer and Scripture as the main practical applications, and then considered other reading, and fellowship/mentoring as extra principles that assist in the work. Today we will conclude by considering the place of rest and worship.
5) Rest – We live in an instant-on society, and increasingly, in some ways, a constantly connected society. I keep my phone by my bed because I use it for an alarm, but the fact that my phone can now Facebook, post tweets, surf the web, text, and receive phone calls, means I am always connected. Whenever we go away as a family into the mountains of Idaho wherein no AT&T coverage has ever dared venture, I have a brief moment of panic as I get disconnected, which is followed by a long period of elation that I am effectively off the grid. To be released from the constant influx of new information is profoundly liberating. Trust me, I’m a guy who reads. A lot. I use Google Reader on my Mac, and Reeder on my iPhone, to stay on top of the wealth of blogs out there, and I have at least three books on my nightstand at any given time.
From the moment my feet hit the floor, until I close my eyes to go to sleep, there is some new information being presented to my brain at astounding pace. It’s no wonder I, and many like me, feel so tired so often. We never really rest our minds. Sure, our bodies may be enjoying a bit of inactivity whilst we vegetate on the sofa, or in our office chairs, but our minds are still sifting, filtering, applying and, ultimately, wearing thin.
God gives us the gift of Sabbath. And God cares for the whole person. Therefore, it makes sense to rest not only our bodies but our minds too. Consider taking a technology Sabbath to disconnect from the pull of new data, and let your mind reflect on what it has already taken in – in other words, meditate on what you already have, rather than lusting after new things simply because they are new.
I find that after a particularly intense season of reading, I will stop for a week or so to let my brain rest and to actually consider the ideas I’ve been taking in. If we don’t take some time to recover from the rigors of mental activity, then we’ll never really increase our strength or potential. We’ll just run ourselves ragged and end up with no real focus.
6) Worship – In terms of mental girding, this is in some ways the natural outcome of the previous ideas, the place we are seeking to arrive at. I think of the times the apostle Paul, after a long burst of theological discourse, breaks away in adoration and devotion (such as Romans 11:33-36). I think about authors and pastors like Piper and Driscoll, whose rigorous theology always culminates in praise of Jesus, and glorifying His name. I think about how my own soul cries out with thanksgiving when I get away to the mountains and rest in His creation. In fellowship and mentoring, I see how people give praise for what God is doing in each other, because they have the perspective to see things differently. This goes on and on, because as I heard Driscoll say recently, we are all created “continuously pouring out” – we’re always worshiping because that is how we are made. When we turn our worship away from idols and self, and give it to God who alone deserves our praise, then there is refreshment for the mind.
To really prosper we need more than just vitamins, proteins and exercise. We need joy. We need hope. And the place we always find these things is in Jesus. Making worship of God part of our daily life (because it doesn’t always naturally go where it is meant to go) is a vital part of preparing our minds for action.
That concludes the series on “Girding the Loins of the Mind” – if you have other ideas on ways we can practically train and prepare our minds, comment away!