“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.'” Matthew 22:36-37 [NASB]
Walking through this valley I have repeatedly been struck afresh by scripture, each time a subtle yet profoundly deepened understanding that leaves me wanting to shout it from the rooftop. It has happened again, this time with the passage above. I’ve read and heard it thousands of times, no doubt, but only now is it really resonating. We regularly talk of loving God with all our hearts and surrendering our hearts to the Lordship of Christ, but it seems there is very little mention of the role of our minds in our faith. Likewise, I periodically pray offering my whole life to Christ, all that I am and have, but sadly I realize I’ve not spent much time meditating on what it means to love God with all of my mind.
I frequently feel there is a chasm between my mind and my heart these days, particularly as I serve in leadership roles at church. My mind tells me to look past the pain in my heart to focus on those I am called to minister to. As a result, I regularly smile, laugh and interact casually while at the same time my heart and soul feel crushed within me. At first I was concerned this was hypocrisy, but prayer and study revealed that was not the case. Scripture is replete with references regarding the vulnerability of the heart and soul to the afflictions of grief, sorrow, pain and troubles. While my heart and soul are set on following the Lord, they bear the excruciating sting of indescribable earthly loss. They long to follow Him but for now they limp in pain, and are sometimes so faint within me that I feel I can not go on.
My mind now takes the lead in my pursuit of Him. It testifies to my heart and soul of the truths it has spent countless hours meditating on through the years. It reminds them of the urgency of kingdom work (2 Cor. 6:1-10), it reminds them that we each only have “a little while” to be used (James 4:14). My mind reminds my heart and soul that God has prepared good works in advance for me to do, and that I don’t want to miss a single one (Eph. 2:10). As I am reminded of these things, I am compelled to look beyond my own pain to ache for a lost and dying world. Like Paul in 1 Corinthians 9, my surrendered mind reminds me I must make myself a slave to the gospel. If my tears and pain can be used for the sake of the gospel I will share them, but when they may impede it, I must discipline them into submission.
I praise God that He captivated my mind years ago with the wonder of His Word. I praise Him that prior to entering this dark valley many a night watch had been spent meditating on the riches of His truths. I praise Him for causing me to love Him with my mind through the power of His Word. Now, through the whispering of the Holy Spirit, those pondered truths once again swirl mightily through my mind enabling me to persevere through the pain in the valley, even when my heart and soul are faint within me.
“My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your word. I have told of my ways, and You have answered me; Teach me Your statutes. Make me understand the way of Your precepts, So I will meditate on Your wonders. My soul weeps because of grief; Strengthen me according to Your word. Remove the false way from me, And graciously grant me Your law. I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me. I cling to Your testimonies; O LORD, do not put me to shame! I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart.” Psalm 119:25-32 [NASB]
As I long to be obedient to love Him with all of my heart, soul and mind, I am challenged to hunger and thirst relentlessly for His Word. I recognize how vitally important it is that I love Him with all of my mind. It is the portal to the heart, it is through the meditations of my mind that my heart gleans truth. To strengthen my weary heart and soul I must focus my mind all the more on the rich truths of His Word. In His faithfulness He continues to teach and unfold it before me in such a way that captivates my heart and reminds me of His sure and steadfast Hope that is the anchor for my wounded soul (Heb. 6:19).
Artwork: Sarah Harmening