Heart, Soul, and Mind
Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” – Matthew 22:37
So I’ve always wondered if there was a distinction between the heart, soul, and mind. I have asked God to show me the difference over the years. In the past year or so, I guess I have forgotten that I asked Him this question. In true God fashion, I believe that He has resurrected the question, and decided to answer it for me this week in true, God fashion.
Before I continue, for years I think I believed that I had to love God to get to heaven. Because I was aware that I didn’t love Him for many years, I thought I was always choosing worldly things over Him (which I was), and I deservedly was headed straight for hell. This is just the way I thought of God. I realize now that in the formative years of Christianity, the main objective is to hold onto that core belief in Jesus Christ as Savior. This belief becomes more and more solidified as you hear the Word of God. This belief turns into faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The by-product of this combination of holding on to this belief in Jesus and hearing the Word of God is love. In a similar way, I met Tonya, got to know her, and then fell in love with her. The result has been this wonderful marriage of 17 and half years. I met Jesus when I was 16. I really learned about Him over the next decade or so by hearing solid preaching and reading His Word for myself. At some point, I fell in love. He went from being my Savior, to being my Lord. He even went from being my Lord, to being my first love.
I say that to say this: I’m going through a really weird phase right now. My religious routines are being wrecked. God is not allowing me comfort or rest in my former methods of reading His Word, praying to Him, and even preparing sermons for Him. He is placing me in these situations where I have to rely on what I’ve already learned. I just thought of this, but it really is like taking a test in school. You were supposed to learn the material, now it is time to prove that you learned it by taking the test.
Having said that, I really desire to find comfort in the reading of His Word and just that wonder of His quiet, still, small voice. I long for it. I find myself asking God, “Is there something wrong with me?” I believe He has taken this time to show me the distinction between heart, soul, and mind. I see heart, soul, and mind as a Venn diagram. Heart is the left circle and encompasses my emotion and feelings. Mind is the right circle that encompasses my thinking and actually using my brain. The middle part caused by the overlap is my soul . . . my entire inner being. I feel like I’m “firing on all cylinders” when this middle overlapping part is lit up. When it is lit up, I’m getting the best of both worlds.
I have gone through so many seasons of life doing the Christian duty of reading and studying the Word, yet void of heart, void of emotion. I wanted to experience God. I wanted to weep in His overwhelming presence. I wanted to feel Him. Eventually, I got to the point where I’d pray to God and say something like this, “God, I don’t just want to dutifully read Your Word, I want to experience You!” I would stop reading for a while and maybe just listen to my favorite preachers, or listen to powerful worship music. Inevitably, I’d experience Him . . . love Him with my heart, if you will. That would propel me to want to read His Word again and I’d feel for a while like I was back to loving Him with my soul . . . my entire being. This sequence of events has happened so many times in my life.
This is the first time in my life that God has made it work in reverse. I’m not studying like I should, or at least like I normally do. Yet, I’m experiencing Him on unprecedented levels. The heart side of the Venn diagram is lit up, yet, I feel like something is missing. I feel like my mind is starving. I want that steady stream of His Word flowing through my mind. I long for it. That kind of longing only comes from Him. I’m asking Him to give me a perfect love for Him and His Word.
My wife has repeatedly told me that I have an addictive personality resulting in an “all or nothing” mentality. It has affected me in enough areas of my life now that I am seeing that she is right. This mentality serves me well in many areas. This mentality is also detrimental in other areas. What God is teaching me this morning is to enjoy Him in all seasons. There will be times of experiencing Him . . . my heart will burst with love for Him. There will be times of study and prayer . . . I will set my mind upon Him. These are not mutually exclusive. They work harmoniously to feed my soul, my entire inner being, and sets it ablaze for my one, true love who will never leave me nor forsake me.
Lord, thank you for showing me the distinction between heart, soul, and mind. Sometimes I think I get caught up in running with you and running for you. I don’t think you are asking me to run sprints for you, but you are simply asking me to walk. Help me get back to just taking it one day at a time. I get so far ahead of myself sometimes that I forget to just enjoy the moment I’m in right now. Help me forget what is behind and look straight ahead. Right now, I have such peace in my heart. Let me keep it today as long as possible. I love you, Lord.