In “A Rule against Murder” by Canadian author Louise Penny, Inspector Gamache confronts Bert Finney, now an old man: “Why did you say you weren’t a prisoner?”
“I wasn’t a prisoner…You were right, I was in a Japanese prison camp, but I wasn’t a prisoner. It’s not semantics, you know. It’s an important distinction. Crucial…I saw a lot of men die there. Most men, Do you know what killed them?…Despair. They believed themselves to be prisoners. I lived with those men, ate the same maggot-infested food, slept in the same beds, did the same back-breaking work. But they died and I lived. Do you know why?”
“You were free.”
“I was free, Milton was right, you know. The mind is its own place. I was never a prisoner. Not then, not now.”
Bert Finney refers to John Milton’s words in “Paradise Lost”: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”
My mind is a place. It can be governed. It can be cultivated. It can be invaded and ruled over by enemies if I permit. I can choose to let another rule my land or I can give Christ the reign. Victimization is a choice.
Recent studies show that the brain is changed by pornography. Studies, also, show that changes occur in the brains of people who pray. How we occupy our minds makes observable changes in our brains. New choices, new root systems of thought, can reverse destructive pathways. We all have shaped our brains to some extent by what we choose to dwell upon.
We need to resist the detrimental loops of text that persist in our minds, the replaying the wrongs done to us, chasing the tail of hurts and injustices, feeding on things unworthy. What we think and what we think about shapes our lives. Our minds color how we view life. What we feed on is who we are.
Ter Steegen wrote a long, long time ago:
Man earthy, of the earth, an hungred feeds
On earth’s dark poison tree—
Wild gourds, and deadly roots, and bitter weeds;
And as his food is he.
And hungry souls there are, that find and eat
God’s manna day by day;
And glad they are, their life is fresh and sweet,
For as their food are they.
When I trusted Christ, I died, so that, I might rise to share His resurrection-power life. Jesus was raised by the power of the Holy Spirit and so am I. I walk now in a new life, a life of resurrection-substance.
“We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Rom. 6:4
The old relationship to sin is broken. I am no longer a prisoner to my sin nature. The years I lived under sin’s dominion wore ruts, pathways of response. Now as a free woman I choose to establish new channels under Christ’s control. I establish new channels in my brain (just like the pornographer and the pray-er does). My mind will shape my brain, my perceptions, my appetites, my attitudes and my actions.
Lord, I want to have a brain shaped by the authority of Your Word and by the power of Your Spirit. I choose not yield my members to bondage again; that is a choice. Please help me. I’m not doing so well in some areas. Either sin unto death OR righteousness unto sanctification. I choose righteousness unto sanctification, by Your gracious enabling.