Rats have been on my mind recently. (That’s another story) I can tell you ministry still amazes me or perhaps in this case its mission still amazes me.  So, I remembered an article about an experiment scientists did with rats.  They tested their brain activity. Scientists placed rats in a T-shaped maze and then put some chocolate at the end of it. The first time the rats entered the maze, they sniffed all the corners and eventually found the treat.  At the beginning, rats showed a lot of brain activity throughout the entire way to discovering the treat. Everything they ran into set the brain activity monitors into a frenzy.  However, as the same rats were put into the maze over and over again, there was a significant change in their brain activity. After the rats showed a repeating pattern, their activity only spiked at the beginning of the maze and at the end. In the middle the rats had significant decrease in activity.  The way I understand it, our brains respond much in the same way. If a situation is familiar, the automatic part of our brain kicks in and we do the actions we have been rewarded with in the past. And while we are in this mode, the prefrontal cortex, where we make decisions, essentially goes into energy conservation mode. Once the goal is achieved, the dopamine is released which rewards the response and that reinforces the behavior pattern for next time. It goes like this – first something sets off the trigger; the trigger leads to a routine we have internalized based on our past interactions and at the end a reward reinforces routine. Author, Charles Duhigg describes this neurological chain reaction as a “habit loop”. Around and around it goes: cue, routine, and reward.  Okay sooo the point – well, we invite you to reflect on the difference between intentional living and routine.  The more routine something is, the less brain power is used.  Intentional living means using the full capacity of your mind. If we live with intention we are better positioned to see and hear and experienced God’s Holy presence…we get to experience the Spirit nudging.

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 21:5
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to want.”

Reflection Questions:
How is intentional living different than routine?
How is God inviting you to use the full capacity of your mind
and heart?
In what ways have you sensed the Spirit’s nudging?

Prayer: Holy God, you gift me with a brain and expect me to live intentionally. Let your Spirit nudge me to care for others, so I can live the more excellent way. Amen.