2052) Leslie (part three of three)

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   (…continued)  We might say that the man who confronted Jesus in Luke 8 had ‘lost his mind.’  That is the expression we sometimes use.  And our brains and mental abilities are so very fragile that there are many ways we can lose our mind.  One of the ways we see that most often these days is in so many of the elderly—those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia.  The incredible advances in medical science have allowed our bodies to live much longer than just a few decades ago.  Therefore, in many people now, the mind wears out long before the body.  There wasn’t as much of that years ago, because bodies did not last as long.  Now, nursing homes are filled with people whose bodies just keep on going, but whose mental abilities are so far gone they do not even recognize their closest loved ones anymore.  It often gets to the point somewhere along the process where death is desired more than life.

     As Christians, we leave these things in God’s hands, but it is not hard to see that there are things worse than death.  In many situations, death brings peace and brings relief.  And those elderly that I visit who do not have dementia tell me that clarity of mind is what they appreciate most of all—even if they have to endure aches and pains and other troubles.  I used to visit a man who died at the age of 109, and his mind stayed sharp and clear, and he enjoyed life until the end.  But if a brain injury takes away that clarity of mind, even at 25 years old life can seem to be going on too long.

     I had a professor in seminary who was an excellent teacher, a wonderful man of God, and a wise and compassionate pastor.  He was professor of pastoral counseling and had written 25 really good books on the subject, including some on counseling those who are depressed.  But with all the resources of faith and the best education in counseling, he could not help his own daughter.  His daughter was overcome by depression, just could not get better, and took her own life.  Her father, an expert on treating depression, could not prevent that irrational act in a moment of weakness—a moment when she ‘lost her mind.’  The mind is so fragile.  It can be damaged beyond repair by injury, by age, by grief, by stress; or even by demons (as in Luke 8:26-39, however that works; that is another subject for another time).

     Even in a mentally healthy person, the mind can be at war with itself.  That’s true for all of us on some level.  Did you ever, in one part of your mind, decide to quit smoking, go on a diet, be more assertive, be less assertive, be not so depressed, not so ornery, or even just to keep your big mouth shut?  Did you ever then do, and keep doing just the opposite of what you decided?

     It can be something as simple as eating a second piece of chocolate cake when you decided ahead of time to have only one piece.  But even as one part of your mind is telling you NO, another part of your mind is saying, “YES, I want to have it,” and tells your hand to pick up the fork and grab another piece.  ‘Doubleminded’ is the title of a book I have that describes this condition.  We are all afflicted with it, and it affects choices far more serious than another piece of cake.  Why can’t we just do, or not do, what we have decided and what we know is best?

     Paul himself wrote of this struggle in Romans chapter seven, when he said, “I don’t even understand myself.  That which I want to do, I do not do; but the very thing that I hate, that is what I do.”  For most people this double-mindedness is annoying, but is kept under control without extensive damage.  Some lose all control and cannot even take care of themselves, like the man in Luke 8.

     But Jesus came to this man and healed him.  As soon as Jesus saw him and saw his problem, Jesus commanded the evil spirits to come out of him; and the man was made well.  Verses 35-36 say that when the townspeople came out to see what happened, they found that “the man had been cured, he was dressed, and was in his right mind.”  Jesus can heal and restore lost minds and troubled spirits.

   Life is a gift from God—as are our bodies and our minds on which life depends.  The depth of our minds’ capabilities is astounding—but so temporary, and so prone to loss and damage and decay.  But the God who gave us our minds can heal them and restore them—just as Jesus did for the poor, demented man in Luke 8.  And God heals our minds like he heals our bodies– sometimes in this life, and sometimes in the life to come.  And just as we believe in the resurrection of the body, we believe in the resurrection and the restoration and the healing of the mind.

     Even the most mentally stable and healthy of us have deep sorrows, intense inner conflicts, buried bad feelings, selfishness, and sin.  Someone once wrote that we all have thoughts that would shame hell.  Very few of us would want our inner thoughts exposed to anyone at any given moment.  It is enough that we all too often SAY the wrong thing and embarrass ourselves.  What would it be like if our thoughts were known?  God, of course, does know—and when we look to Him, He forgives us, and will one day heal us.

     In Romans 7:21-25 Paul wrote of this healing:  “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I do delight in God’s law; but there is another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind…  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

     In Luke 8:26-39 we see Jesus heal and restore a troubled mind.  You might think God has never done that for you.  But are you sure?  Have you ever been at your wit’s end, and then somehow found the strength to go on?  Or in a time of turmoil found some moments of inner peace and calm?  Or been tempted and been able to resist?  Or been filled with rage and anger and hatred, and then found the grace to forgive?  Perhaps in those times it was God holding on to you, and sustaining you, and restoring you, and healing you.

     Trust that God is indeed here, with you; leading you beside still waters, restoring your soul, and leading you in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  We need fear no evil, for God is there to comfort us, even in the valley of the shadow of death and despair.


James 1:8  —  A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.

James 4:8  —  Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Psalm 34:18  —  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Isaiah 66:12a…13a  —  This is what the Lord says…”As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.”


Ah Lord, my prayers are dead, my affections dead, and my heart is dead:  but you are a living, loving God and I commit myself to you.  Amen.  

–William Bridge