Mar 11, 2010


Do you know what your Reticular Activator is? It is that part of your brain that heightens your awareness of certain things. Let’s say that you purchase a particular type of car and you start seeing them everywhere that you go. In fact; your reticular activator can fool you into thinking that EVERYONE is thinking of buying the same type of car as the one that you just purchased. You get interested in some activity, and you become keenly aware of the numerous places that you can go to do that activity.

The reticular activator never sleeps. It is a part of the brain the stays on alert; it is always active. Because our brains can only handle so much information and stimulation, the reticular activator makes you notice some things and ignore other things by sending a message to the conscious side of the brain that says, “Here’s something you need to pay close attention to!"     

Your reticular activator can be used for an obsession for good things as well as not so good things. I define “obsession” as the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, passion, or things of that nature.     
I was thinking about this part of my brain this past week. Spring is in the air and while the rest of Minnesota looks for tulips or daffodils, I look for hockey pucks. I spent time after my game last Saturday picking up pucks that were once buried beneath the 5-6 feet of snow that was around the rinks that I play hockey on. At first I looked once a week, then it turned into a daily event.   

This once passing fad has turned into an obsession for me! Today it has become a ‘three times a day’ event; searching for hockey pucks that are now out in the open as the 40 degree weather melted the snow. Some days I was picking up as many as 30 pucks at one time. What is worse is I dream of pucks; I think of pucks; I even look for hockey pucks on roadways that are miles from any hockey rink. Getting out looking for pucks has become a literal obsession; just ask my wife Cathy. I would rather say that I am ‘leaving the ninety-nine’ (pucks), and going after the one which is lost until I find it.    

And then it hit me; if my reticular activator could be tuned in to something as (dare I say it) unimportant as collecting hockey pucks, could not my reticular activator be turned on for something much more important? If this part of my brain could be so easily tuned to take something from a passing hobby to an obsession; what else could I use my brain to focus on? And then I thought of what was most important.    

When Jesus was asked; "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" (Mat 22:36) Jesus answered, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' (Mat 22:37). Did you catch that; ALL your mind, soul and heart. I needed to shift what my reticular activator was tuned into. I realized how quickly my reticular activator could change what I thought about; it really took only a few days to go from hobby to obsession. And that gave me hope. 

Hope that with the help of the Holy Spirit my God-built brain could be used to become obsessed with knowing Him; and looking for Him as passionately and obsessively as my reticular activator made me focus on finding temporal things. Hope that with God’s help I could become consumed with a heart, mind, and soul longing to be close to the Maker of me! Hope that my heart could burn for God passionately! Hope that I could glorify God and enjoy Him throughout my whole day. Hope because of a part of my brain called the reticular activator.   

What will you do with your obsession?   

Obsession by Delirious    
 What can I do with my obsession?
With the things I cannot see
Is there madness in my being?
Is it wind that blows the trees?
Sometimes You're further than the moon
Sometimes You're closer than my skin
And You surround me like a winter fog
You've come and burned me with a kiss 
 And my heart burns for You

And my heart burns    And I'm so filthy with my sin
 I carry pride like a disease
You know I'm stubborn God and I'm longing to be close
You burn me deeper than I know
I feel lonely without hope
I feel desperate without vision
You wrap around me like a winter coat
You come and free me like a bird 
 And my heart burns for You

And my heart burns for You
Written by Martin Smith 1995 Curious? Music UK

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