New neural pathways of faith, hope, and love

Communion with God changes everything. It's true! I experienced it again this morning. I was praying over a situation that has been giving me some stress. Then I opened the Gospel of John and started browsing through the middle of the book. I settled on chapter 7 and stopped when I read this verse:
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. (7:38)
I realized that what Jesus is saying is that even when you are in the middle of a stressful situation, you need not get trapped in all the "normal" responses: anxiety, depression, anger, and the like. He has a completely different way to meet the challenges of life. I'm not a scientist, but I believe the normal neural pathways that are accompanied by stressful chemical responses are well-worn highways in our brains, and God wants to plow some new roads for us.

I spent quite a while in prayer, simply receiving from God three gifts: faith to trust him, hope to see that he holds the future in his hands, and love to respond to people in a life-giving way. As I enjoyed this communion with God, I felt the negative emotions melt away and a bright, new warmth begin to replace them.

Let me add one important detail to this story. Running in the background behind this morning's prayer is an ongoing conversation I have been having with God: I want my will to be lined up with his will. I believe his grace given to me this morning is an answer to that ongoing background prayer. When our will is lined up with God's will, then rivers of living water (i.e., the presence of the Holy Spirit) can flow through us.

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