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It is Not So Well With My Mind

Jeremiah: "Wise men shouldn't boast about their wisdom."

Like most people in church-work, I've made a lot of trips to hospitals. Surgeries, accidents, new moms with babies, the kind of things you'd expect. It's an important and enjoyable part of ministry.

Now and then I visit folks in the Psych Ward, too, though that description is no longer politically correct; terms like "Behavioral Sciences" are preferred. But everyone knows what it means, just the same.

Patient confidentiality in these departments has reached a level that used to be reserved for Secret Agents. You can't, for example, leave a message for a patient in the Behavioral Wing; because if the desk accepts the message, it would indicate that the patient is actually there. Receptionists are instructed to say, "if there IS a Mrs. such-and-such here, we'll pass along your name to her." While our culture would LIKE to believe mental illness carries no more stigma than a kidney infection, our protective - and clearly odd - policies make it clear what we really think.

Actually, I don't disagree with noble efforts to protect the dignity and privacy of men and women, but our larger perspective is probably a bit skewed. Or, to put a finer point on it, the importance of our thinking skills may be overrated. Particularly spiritually.

I'm reminded of Horatio Spafford, the fellow who wrote the hymn "It is Well with My Soul." It's a beautiful song, and its birth is a fascinating story, but we'll look at it another day.

Spafford apparently lost his mind toward the end of his life. Now this poor guy didn't just suffer a bit of absent mindedness! He developed a Christ complex! That's a particularly awful problem for a Christian. Forgetting where you parked your car is one thing, but identifying yourself as the 2nd Member of the Trinity is not good. History says Spafford actually arrived in Jerusalem, presented himself as the Messiah and was promptly arrested. He later died in a Jerusalem prison.

But even though Spafford's mind was undependable, isn't it wonderful to know that it was STILL WELL WITH HIS SOUL? God's ability to keep Horatio, or you, or me, is not dependent upon our good thinking.

If you're a bit ditzy, like I am, you may want to stand up and shout "hallelujah!" at this point! But - in reality -who functions at 100% anyway? Most of us probably idle along at a barely passing grade. (Maybe less than passing: William James, the psychologist and educator, estimated that we use about 10% of our minds.) Still, we attach great gravity to our own thinking process. It's really pitiful, when you...uh...think about it.

I'm thankful we serve a Sovereign Lord "who knows our frame," (even our mainframe) "that we are but dust." Few of us are as bad as we could be, but - by nature - all of us are as bad off as we can be. Yet God, in His mercy, chooses to rescue and redeem us.

The strongest and the wealthiest and even the wisest among us can agree with Spafford: "My sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more! Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Oh, my soul!"

Blessings, Phil

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