Author: Julie Loggins
Thursday, May 21, 2020
“Open Minds,” that is the title of today’s devotional. I’ve been using the devotional entitled These Days: Daily Devotions for Living by Faith. Today’s topic is explored by Michael L. Lindvall from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He points out that “closed minds” refuse to listen and are reluctant to hear anything new. If ideas do not fit into the preconceived notions of one with a closed mind, they are cast out. One with an “open mind” is willing to sit with things that are new, fresh, and even potentially disturbing. It doesn’t mean that these ideas are readily accepted, but they are at least examined and weighed for their value.
As I read this, I could not help but return to my graduate studies and examinations of political leaders during times of crisis. I am reminded of discussions of cognitive dissonance and Janis’ “mind guards” that enable “group think” so as not to challenge certain tightly held ideas. As I look at today’s international COVID-19 pandemic, I see leaders (political, social, economic, religious, medical, etc.) who are struggling with being closed minded, who are struggling with letting in new ideas and new information. Just when they start to let some of the new “findings” sink in, something else comes into the picture, either adding to or refuting what we already “knew” about the virus and its transmission, risk factors, etc.
For the last several months, it has been difficult to be just an average citizen trying to discern what I should and should not be doing. Add to that being a leader in a couple of different settings and taking in all the changing information. There is a lot of pressure to be “right.” While in many cases those with whom I work in positions of leadership and I are being cautious in our assessments and decisions regarding how to move forward, it is with love and concern for those we are representing, advising, etc. Those in higher positions have other things to consider. They are thinking about challenges to what have been known as basic freedoms, failing economies, decades-long recession or even depression. There are farther reaching concerns in their minds. While we should not blindly accept everything we see and hear and follow orders as mindless cogs in the wheel, we need to remember to have an open mind. We need to be willing to share some grace with those in difficult positions.
Jesus asked his disciples to have open minds. His death and resurrection were new and quite disconcerting to his disciples, but they remembered his words. They heeded his advice, and they believed. They kept their minds open and saw what he told them come to fruition. The gospel can still be new and even disturbing to us as Lindvall points out in his devotional. Our daily lives can be as well. God provided us with grace – undeserved, and unearned. At times such as this, should we not be able to do the same for those making the tough decisions as well?
The past few months have had changes, some of which have been disconcerting at times. The coming months, and potentially years, will have more. We’ve already changed how we worship with one another and have seen that we can still interact. We hear how “it’s not the same.” We know that. It may never be the same as it was. We need to be prepared for that. I’m reminded of something my husband has said many times: “Well, it sure isn’t like the good old days, but then again, it never really was.” It is very easy to romanticize things we miss and things we no longer have without giving something new a chance. For all of our sakes, please keep an open mind, and give change a chance. I see more of my church family now than I did when we could worship together and share the Peace of Christ with an embrace. Is that fellowship, connection, and presence not sometimes even more important than physically being together?
What is important to remember is that God is still guiding us. We simply need to ask for his guidance. He will provide us with comfort as he leads us. We simply need to ask. He will provide us with strength. Sometimes it will be strength from inside us; sometimes it will be strength from others to help us. We just need to ask.
I leave you with two final requests: join me in keeping an open heart so that we may show others grace even when it is not deserved, earned, or asked for, just as God has done for us all, and join me in my journey to try to keep an open mind to all that is new and different even though I may not understand. Remember that God will always lead us. We simply need to choose to follow.
The prayer that Lindvall uses to end the devotional is quite poignant since I am pretty certain none of us ever thought we would be where we are now. I know I did not.
Open our minds, O God, even when you lead us where we never thought to go. Amen.