Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spiritual Synapses

In the last decade or so, scientists have uncovered lots of new information about how a baby’s brain develops. We now know that when a when a baby is born, her brain is wired for only the basic functions of life, like breathing and circulation. However, by the time a baby is a year old, her brain will much more closely resemble the brain of an adult than that of a newborn. The formation of synapses, little pathways that connect groups of brain cells to each other, is crucial in brain development. Synapse formation is driven by sensory stimulation. Every time a baby has a new experience, new connections are formed. This growth is so rapid, that in the first few months of life babies develop hundreds of TRILLIONS of these synapses. Sadly, babies who are victims of neglect, who are not nurtured and stimulated, develop fewer synapses, leading to potential learning disabilities or delays later in life.

Just as a baby’s brain development depends on new experiences, I am convinced that our faith develops in much the same way. Every time we experience God in a new or different way, our faith grows. And, we must actively pursue these new experiences. While there is great value in regularly attending church and being a member of a small group or Sunday school class, we cannot limit our spiritual experiences to only these activities. Personally, some of my greatest spiritual growth has happened outside of the four walls of church. Going on mission trips, spending time talking about God with non-believers, attending Christian concerts, trusting God to meet a need…these are all experiences that have formed my faith.

In Psalm 34:8, David invites us to seek God in tangible, sensory ways…to “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. Let’s ask God to reveal Himself to us in a new and different way today. Pray that He will provide us with experiences each day that build our faith.

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