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Sunday, 8 October 2017

Flexible Lips, Flexible Thinking

 Flick and Gregor are learning two languages, and have been from birth. That is good for their brain development, and a blessing for them both. It’s not just good for the brain, though; it’s also good for the mouth, because studies show that by the age of approximately 5, our mouths have settled into a pattern of sounds and from then on, no matter how hard we try to say the proper ‘u’ sound in French or ‘bl’ sound in Russian, our mouths are going to struggle.

Our mouths form habits which eventually inhibit movement as they harden into routines. Flexibility stiffens with time.

Thinking is similar. Neural pathways develop and as our thought processes repeat themselves and become routine, so any alternative pathways sort of atrophy. Our thinking narrows down to our default attitudes, developed as we walk through the world and experience it. The Bible says we have the mind of Christ, (1 Cor 2:16) but also that we are to transform ourselves by the renewing of our minds so that we think like Him. (Romans 12:2)How?

As I headed out for a quick walk this morning, I prayed aloud. In tongues. The sounds were alien and came from the Spirit, who has the power to transform my mind, to restore correct thinking. He knows where my thinking has hardened into cynicism or worldly attitudes. He knows how to re-jig my brain so that it becomes my default thinking to conform to Jesus’ thoughts, and not the world’s. So as my mouth formed words that were weird and wonderful, I trust that the Lord was doing a bit of work in my brain to help me conform no longer to the pattern of this world, which is often a pattern of hopeless despair.

Paul says that whoever speaks in tongues edifies herself. Edify means to instruct or improve , especially morally or spiritually. Tongues is a gift we under-rate because it is divisive and perhaps embarrassing, or seems a little over-the-top. But I want to be all I can be in Christ, and if by speaking weird words out loud my mind can be edified, so that some of its less helpful rat-runs of anxiety and fear become dead ends and shrivel into disuse, I will keep speaking what may sound like nonsense, trusting my Father to be making sense out of it.

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