Spiritual Plasticity

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2014 7 Apr

Until recently, scientists believed that injuries to the brain could not be healed. If you had a stroke, for instance, the common practice was to offer rehabilitative services only on a short-term basis because long-term therapies were thought to offer little hope. Now all that has changed. Research has shown that the brain is not static but plastic, meaning that with the right kind of exercise and stimulation, it has the ability to change and heal itself.

Based on these findings about the brain, a rehabilitation program has been developed that offers great promise for people with brain injuries or learning deficits. In this type of therapy, patients complete a series of finely honed exercises designed to stimulate specific areas of their brains. These exercises are designed to strengthen areas of weakness in their brains. Day after day, by faithfully challenging weaker areas of the brain, the patients form new neural pathways until eventually many of them are able to gain cognitive function. Though the program can be tedious, it’s hard to argue with its remarkable results.

Perhaps we need a spiritual version of this kind of brain therapy—one that can help our spirits grow stronger as we seek to follow the Lord. Come to think of it, perhaps we already have something like that. It’s called obedience. I have to admit that obedience has never been my favorite word. It’s sometimes tedious and often difficult. In many cases I’d much rather do what I want to do instead of what God wants me to do. Obedience challenges me spiritually to become the person God wants me to be. The more I obey, the stronger and more spiritually mature I will become because obedience creates pathways in my soul for God to work.

Like our brains, our spirits are capable of incredible growth and healing. If we want God’s shalom to characterize our lives, we have to be willing to obey him.