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Monday, July 20, 2009

You Are What You See

In class today, we discussed a great short story called "the student, the fish, and the agassiz". In this story, a student is asked by his professor to study a fish called a haemulon for hours on end and carefully record all of his observations. After 10 minutes, he's ready to call it quits, but the professor insists. So for several DAYS he looks and records, looks and records, eventually shocking himself by how much there is to see when one slows down enough to pay attention. He reports that after this experience, any fish he draws ends up looking just like a haemulon. He studied it so closely that when he thinks of fish, this pattern has been forever etched in his mind.

It occurs to me that the human brain works like this. Our mind comes back to some topics repeatedly, either by choice or by assignment, and this forms a pattern in our brain that begins to shape how we view everything else. This can happen in positive ways or negative, but I am convinced that it does happen.

If someone is addicted to video games, everything they see will start to remind them of screen images and game characters. They will be ordering lunch at Burger King and thinking about game strategy. If someone is addicted to sex, they will see sexual references and innuendos all over the place- even in places they know they shouldn't. If someone is addicted to looks and appearance, their mind will begin to obsess about dress, fashion, and hair style at bizarre moments. Unbidden, these thoughts return because the brain has been taught what to think about.

Romans 12:2 tells us to let God transform us by the renewing of our mind. What does it mean to be renewed? If I renew a gym membership, I sign on again for the experience and benefits I've had before. If I renew my driver's license, I revisit the qualifications and get certified for more years of operating a motor vehicle. I think to renew our minds means to mentally revisit what truly matters. We are renewed by going back to the image, the picture that can truly change us, namely, the loving, sacrificial life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. As we return to this image, and this passion, over and over, it will begin to transform us. We begin to see life through a new lens, and much like the student in our short story, when we go to draw life, all we can seem to draw is pictures that look like Jesus.

If my mind and my life will be shaped by something, and I believe that it will, then I want to make sure and choose wisely what is shaping me. Is it culture? Sex? Entertainment? Or is it Jesus? And the best part, I believe, is that when we look at him over and over, he brings true fullness and life to everything else.

What are you looking at? Because THAT'S what you are becoming.

On your journey, I hope you will be looking to Him...the one who is worthy.

Nick

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