Tuesday, November 19, 2013

This is your brain on God

When our first baby was four months old, I began to read to her.  At first, she just sat on my lap, watched intently the pictures on each page, and listened to a few words mumbled.  Even before she could speak, she began waving to the birds on the last page of a certain book when I said, "Good-bye, birdies.  Enjoy your dinner."

Her first word was "book."  Her second word was "again."

She soon realized those lines on a page had meaning,and somehow knew, at the most inconvenient times, that her very tired mama was skipping parts of the story. 

One connection led to another.  She progressed to the ABC song and then played with magnetic letters on our old refrigerator door.  Each letter had a sound.  I watched her sound out a word one day, ccccc---aaaaaa---ttttt.  CAT! she exclaimed.  A deep and enduring connection was created.

She got it.  A new pathway in her brain was paved.  We could see it in her excitement.  We could see it in how she read and in how she learned.

Now, thanks to advances in imaging technology, those newly sprouted connections can be physically observed in the human brain.  Neural pathways can be visually documented and observed on an imaging device, physical changes which are manifested in what we think, do and even decide.

It has also been scientifically observed how a nurturing positive environment -- or even mood -- allows the brain to come up with new solutions to problems.  Researchers can visually see those connections "sprout" between neurons, as if a different and better road suddenly appears on the map, so to speak.  The brain physically changes as we think.  

Neural imaging actually observes how different areas of the brain "light up" when they make connections, according to researchers at Northwestern University's Cognitive Neuroscience Program.

And so, if I understand that correctly, when the Bible speaks of making all things new, of putting a new and right spirit in me, or "when anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation," that spiritual transformation is actually a physical change in my heart and mind, visible both on the inside and out.  Prayer does change you.  And imagine the long-term impact daily reading of God's Word can do, not just creating a change of spiritual mindset, but also a literal change of mind and heart, how I see things and how I respond.  It does matter.  It matters a lot. I may never view those changes on an imaging device, but I have experienced them in my life. God changes us.

And we all,
     with unveiled face,
beholding the glory of the LORD,
are being transformed into the same image
from one degree of glory
                             to another.

                            2 Corinthians 3.18

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