During my last semester of college I watched all nine seasons of Scrubs on Netflix (oh, that blessed Netflix). Prior to that wonderful experience I would’ve listed the word “frick” and all it’s derivatives on my list of least favorite words (along with the word scarcely, which for some reason I have always mentally replaced with the word hardly when reading). Then I spent eight seasons plus four episodes with the lovely Elliot Reid. Now whenever I stub a toe or pinch a finger you will hear one of my previously least favorite words leave my mouth. Loudly and with gusto. “Frick!”
The last time I got my haircut I told the hairdresser that I would like her to cut off “un chin” of my hair. She laughed and said, “Un chin? Tu eres dominicana!” After hanging out with Dominicans for two years I had picked up the Dominican way to say “just a little bit” – “un chin.”
The other day, after finishing a few chapters of Psalms, I went into the kitchen to scrounge up some leftovers for lunch. (Yes, I do read my Bible first thing in the morning (most days). First thing in the morning just happens to come very close to lunchtime these days. Hooray for summer!) We had had tacos earlier in the week and I was excited for those kinds of leftovers, but I wasn’t sure we had any tortillas left. When I saw that beautiful bag of tortillas in the deli drawer I said, “Bless the Lord!”
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
– Proverbs 3:1-3
I realized a long time ago that the things I put in my mind and my heart were eventually going to work their way out, in my thoughts, words, actions, or all three. Words are the most memorable and the most obvious method, with the most influence. When I spent time around Elliot Reid (via my laptop), I picked up her phrases. Now, as sad as it may be, “Frick,” is in my heart and in my mind and it frequently works it’s way out automatically and without any conscious intention. Now, “un chin,” is in my heart and in my mind and I’m able to throw around words specific to Dominican Spanish without any thought.
How much more important is it for me to have the Word of God in my heart? All throughout the Psalms and Proverbs David and his son Solomon reference the value and importance of knowing God’s Word, of learning His statues and commandments, of binding them around our necks and displaying them on our doorposts. When God’s Words, God’s Words of love and life and blessing and justice and righteousness and holiness and peace, are in my heart and in my mind, they’re going to find their way out of my mouth.
A question many Christians have to answer for themselves is whether or not they want to give money to someone experiencing homelessness or extreme poverty when asked. Most people at some point in their lives have been asked for money by a panhandler or beggar and many struggle with whether or not money is actually helpful. There are many good, valid reasons not to give a stranger cash. They are many good, valid reasons to give a stranger cash. Like so many things in life, this issue is very person and situation specific.
My personal stance is to always offer food if I have it rather than money. My heart’s stance is to offer conversation and relationship and dignity first and foremost, but that’s harder and takes time and courage that I convince myself I don’t have. Overall, though, my desire is to be in tune with the Holy Spirit, to have God’s Words hidden in my heart, so that when the situation arises the Loving and right thing to do will, like a sitcom catchphrase or Dominican slang, fly out of my mouth and out of my hands without thought or contemplation.
This is God’s desire. To be so close to us, to be so in communion with us, to be so at home in us, that our actions become His actions and His actions become ours. Automatically and without thought.
Often our minds and hearts are so overcrowded with junk that there isn’t room for the Spirit to make Himself at home and there isn’t room for God’s Words to live. That junk might not even be bad. Netflix isn’t inherently bad. Books and movies and friends and songs aren’t bad and I would certainly argue that you should make space in your mind and in your heart for books and movies and friends and songs. But it’s what’s most important, what’s taking up the most space, what’s closest to your heart and freshest on your mind that is going to fly out into the big world when you’re in a jam (or when you find tortillas where you thought there were none).
I’m allowing God’s Word to take root and allowing the Holy Spirit to make Himself at home by reading my Bible first and often (or at least that’s the plan). What is taking up too much space in your heart and in your mind? What would you like to make more room for?