Unencumbered By the Thought Process

Leading a righteous life as true followers of Christ can be overwhelming. 

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
-Matthew 5:17 

And Jesus made it even more difficult by insisting that we not only follow the letter of the law, but also the intent of the law. What is in our heart matters as much as what we do and do not do.

There is a certain thought process underlying how we decide what to do and what not to do. 

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
-Mathew 22:37-40

How do we apply these commandments in our daily decisions?

Some would suggest to ask ourselves: “What would Jesus do?” WWJD. Makes sense. Sometimes. But how in the world am I supposed to know the answer anyway?! Jesus did not wear high heels, so how do I find out if he would choose the Christian Louboutin shoes or the Tory Burch shoes? Or if I should work at the MacDonalds on Main Street or the White Castle on Elm Street?

Some would suggest that I must not know the Bible enough, because the Bible is the book of life—it has answers for everything. Right. It will even tell us which numbers to pick for Lotto, if I know the book of Numbers really well. Oh sorry, my bad. Not that one! 

Yes, the Bible talks a lot about many things (for example, money, repentance, etc.), but it is also silent or, at best, ambiguous about other things that we encounter in our daily lives. This is the reality of our Christian lives on earth.

I certainly do not have all the right answers—far from it. But I can share a little of how I think about this topic. 

On US National Public Radio, there is a popular show called Car Talk. If you do not live in the United States, it is worth your while to listen to it over the Internet (www.cartalk.com) or via podcast. The show now airs only reruns, but they are still as funny and as relevant as ever.

One of the co-hosts, Tom Magliozzi, is known for his many sayings, which include the following.

“Non impediti ratione cogitationis: unencumbered by the thought process.’ -Tom Magliozzi

It was his motto, actually. And it is a brilliant concept. Here is why I think it is applicable.

1. God knows infinitely more than we do.

Compared to God, we know very little. Over-thinking anything will not get us any closer to God’s knowledge.

Making mistakes is a natural part of learning. We need to make decisions based on the available knowledge at hand. But whatever the outcome, we need to learn. If it is the correct decision, then we know what to repeat given the same circumstances. If it is the wrong decision, then we know what to avoid in the said circumstances.

If it turns out to be the wrong decision, admit it and move on. The world will not come to its end because of it. See below.

2. God can make the best lemonade out of any lemon.

One wrong decision (or even a series of wrong decisions) does not have to be the end of the story. One young man wrongly decided to flaunt his preferred status as his rich father’s favourite son and it got him sold as a slave. As a slave, he decided to groom himself well that his master’s wife lusted him and wanted to sleep with him. He decided not to do that, and this got him jailed. But the story did not end there. This young man, Joseph, eventually became the second most powerful man in the kingdom and saved many people from starvation (Gen. 37-45).

For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
-Romans 8:28

3. God is sovereign and all powerful.

I am not sure if God actually has a personal opinion on each and every matter. Maybe he does and if he does, he certainly is not a fussy God. We make many many decisions every day and I think the percentage of us choosing as God himself would choose is not too good. And yet we do not get zapped by lightning for those times when we chose not as God would choose. At times, we got what we incorrectly decided to get (or wished for) and had to live with the consequences.

But quite often, we do not get what we wished for / decided to get, because if we did get it, God knows that we will not be able to handle the negative implication. He knows much better than we do when to let us learn from our mistakes and when to let us grovel at him for not giving us what we wished for. No matter how hard we try, if God does not will it, it will not happen.

4. God hears prayers.

Ask God to help you think and make decisions. The result may not be drastic and immediate and that is okay. But pray. Even if you do not pray “in tongues” or do not pray long, it is okay. God does not answer prayer based on sophistication or length. He answers according to his wisdom and far exceeding knowledge of everything. Even if we do not know if we are asking for the right thing, just ask anyway.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
-Psalms 19:14

In conclusion, let us pray and be “unencumbered by the thought process,” because God is trustworthy.

I have a recent personal experience. Early last year, I asked God to give me enough faith to give $200 to the missions fund. (This is a true story, but $200 is not the real number, just an illustration). And then in December, I was trying to catch up to that commitment and something came up. I felt bad because I had to choose between that and delivering on the last installment of the $200. I tried to make it work, but in the end I gave less than what I wanted totaling to less than $200 last year. 

“Bummer, but God, you know everything. I trust you will help me the following year to give $200.”

Last week, I was reconciling my finances and I found out that mid-year last year, I made some missions giving which I forgot about in December. And to my surprise the total missions giving I did last year was, yes, $200.  In this particular case, unencumbered by the thought process I got what I had prayed for.

“Whatever it is, it will cost you two hundred bucks, if that is what it is.” -Tom Magliozzi

Slamet Hendry
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