Confession time: I get stuck in my head.
I am used to working in my mind. It is my laboratory, my playground, my room.
When crises hit, my first instinct is to start gathering information and devising a plan. I work in logic and reason. My motto has always been “Work The Problem”.
However, like the collegiate athlete hanging out in the gym instead of the library before a test, I tend to stay in my head instead of using my spirit. This is a problem when, as a Christian, my main focus, my pure goal, is supposed to be to stay close to the Lord at all times, as He has everything I need for my life (and is even smarter than I am).
But my first instinct is to think, not pray.
Then it becomes a habit to stay in our heads, acknowledging Him without being with Him. It is the difference between reciting the bones in your lover’s hand and actually holding your lover’s hand. It is a habit many intellectual Christians get into, I think, when we are task saturated, getting a bit proud, are under stress. We revert to our logic and analysis.
How do we know, then, when we are in the spirit vs in the mind? For me, there is rest. (Of course there is. I am in the presence of God and communicating with Him.) I can actually sense the difference between spirit and mind like walking through a door into a cool, pleasant room. My heart rate slows and tension ebbs, my emotions regulate (yes, we all have emotions). There is a broader mental expanse–eternity is present, if you will. There is love, there is a presence (the Holy Spirit), there is instruction. Things click into place. I am in the presence of God and there is peace and rest. There is no consternation or shame. There is an abundant source of actual strength to get through my actual day. Right now, for example, when my head is killing me and I have a ton of deadlines, I can hop between “overwhelmed” and “it’s all good, I have strength to spare” simply by not using or using my spirit, the conduit we have to the Lord’s gifts to us.
Now, this does not mean we check our minds at the door. No. In fact, we are to pray with our minds as well as our spirits (1 Cor 14:13-17). We can and should worship the Lord with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding–all our fun mental toys.
But we can’t ignore our spirit to play with our minds, and I think that is a pitfall of intellectual Christians.
If I may, perhaps this is a good day/week to practice “hanging out with God”, exercising our spirits, learning to discern what is the paper knowledge and what is the relationship. Strengthen your spirit so that you can comfortably and easily dwell there, and in fact that will be our main “go to” through our day. Remember, just like you use your brain when you are sitting on the couch with a loved one, you will still be worshiping God with your mind when you are “sitting in your spirit” with God. You will simply also be with the Lord, close enough to Him to not block His will and benefits and instruction for you.