It is thought that living by faith renders good, clear rational thinking useless. In other words, if we trust Someone or Something to be true even though we cannot prove it, we are by definition not living by reason and logic thus shutting down our brain’s vast cognitive ability.
I have found the opposite to be true: when I decide to trust my Higher Power, my mind steps into high gear. Called to stretch the limits of my intellectual capabilities, I now must expand my thinking power to accommodate new heights. Strategic planning, thinking outside the box, creative analysis, expansive imagination go from luxury to necessity. Faith does not take less brain power; it takes far more!
Recently, I led a group of people of faith through the classic book by Bob Buford entitled Halftime. It challenges those who are at the end of a career to consider the rest of their life not as a downhill slope of slowing down and aging but as the 2nd half of a full and committed life. Moreover, Buford suggests that this 2nd half may be more significant, more meaningful, and utilize more of one’s true gifts and passions than the first.
Inserting this tiny seed into their minds – the faith that God might actually be calling them to a ‘next’ vocation and that such a calling had endless possibilities – revolutionized their thinking. Before, their thoughts turned to rather predictable questions: when to start collecting social security, how long their nest eggs would last, whether or not to move out of an expensive county, how to accommodate health/aging realities, taking care of loved ones – worthy pursuits and ones that certainly necessitated careful consideration and planning. But now, the issues were anything but predictable, pushing their intellect to address questions they had not considered in years, if ever: what am I really passionate about? What are my most natural, God-given gifts? What have I been dreaming about my whole life but never thought I had the money/time/permission/etc. to actually pursue? What would it take to actually pull this off? What if I completely overhauled my carefully scripted plan for retirement?
Which of these trains of thought takes more brain power? I think the second.
Believing in something can galvanize our cognitive ability in ways never conceived of before. It stretches our mind to its greatest potential.
Can faith be dangerous? Absolutely. If our mind can be harnessed for good, it can also be harnessed for bad. Some of the worst acts in human history occurred when great minds believed something terrible. But that should not discourage us from stretching our minds beyond the tangible. The greatest inventions, the biggest reform movements, the most daring moral triumphs, and the boldest human achievements all took place because someone believed something they couldn’t prove.
Believe big, and let your mind catch up!