Through spiritual reading we have some say over what enters into our minds…but it requires real discipline to let God and not the world be the Lord of our mind.
Jesus was grounded in Scripture.
We know this because he referenced and quoted Scripture all the time. I say “grounded” because a grounding wire is what connects you back to earth—or, in a broader sense, to a deeper reality beneath your feet. Jesus used Scripture in just this way, to keep himself connected to the reality of God beneath his feet and all around him.
When I was eight years old, I had my first depression. Depression is hard to describe. It felt to me like a great hollow. A gray malaise surrounding everything and every moment. A wet coat in my mind that I couldn’t shake off.
Years later I would understand: I was sensing breakdowns and tensions and sadness in my family long before I understood and certainly before I had words for what was happening. The heart, not to mention the body, is often miles ahead of the head, after all. But at the time, I had no idea whyI was so down, and neither did my family.
One February evening (I remember it was February because it was right after my birthday, which had only warmed me very briefly before I sank back down into the depths) my mom took me aside and made me open the Bible to the Book of Psalms. She thumbed through the pages until she found the verse she was looking for. Then she had me copy it down ten times on a yellow index card. I know this sounds like some sort of bizarre religious punishment, but it wasn’t. It was compassion and care, and I understood that loud and clear. I wrote the verse ten times, as instructed: You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance.
It helped. Or at least I think it must have, because even now I remember both the words and the sense of comfort they conveyed. But beyond the specific words she pointed to, I learned a broader lesson: my mom was teaching me that there is a reality beyond and distinct from the one between my ears. She was teaching me that even what I think and feel is not to be entirely trusted. She was, ultimately, teaching me how to enter another story, and one in which there is hope, resource, and abundance. She was teaching me that, through Scripture, I could learn to become aware of that story.
I’ll never forget that lesson. It’s helped anchor my life into a posture of trust, even when I’ve been beset by sorrow and despair far greater than my eight-year-old self could have foreseen.
Jesus tells us that we become clean by the words he speaks. If we hear them and respond to them, it transforms us. Jesus is the Word of God, and he speaks the words of God, words that are captured for us in Scripture. If we want to thrive as his disciples—if we want to become clean and stay clean—we must learn to enter into the story that Jesus tells.
This will mean far more than just memorizing Scripture, and certainly more than taking in information about Scripture, although both of those practices are valuable. It will mean learning to trust and yield to Scripture, absorbing it and wrestling with it, which is the only way we enter into the transformation at the heart of its story.
For all of these readings in one place, order my book 'Learning to Live and LoveLike Jesus.'