During my senior year of college, I took a creative writing class. One of our assignments was to write a sonnet—a poem with a very rigid meter and rhyme scheme. Though I love poetry, I had never written a sonnet, and I was finding the assignment very challenging. I had pushed it off and pushed it off until it was the night before the sonnet was due—and still I had nothing. My brain felt stuck, and I didn’t know what to do.
On Thursday nights, a campus group held a weekly worship service in the chapel, and I often went. But this night, my unwritten poem taunted me. How could I go? It would delay my success to a decidedly late hour. My brain would be tired; I would be closer to failure. Yet, I felt God inviting me to trust Him and worship anyway. So I went. I set aside my work, and I gave Jesus my undivided heart. It was just what I needed.
When I returned to my room, I sat down at my laptop and wrote my sonnet in less than 30 minutes. During worship, an idea had slipped into my mind, and I followed it. The poem I wrote that night—my first-ever sonnet—would also later become the first of my poems to be accepted for publication.
After I printed my poem, ready to take to class the next day, I asked Jesus about what had happened. What was it that had enabled me to write it so quickly, after struggling with the assignment for days? The simple answer was: When I put Him above everything else, He gave me the strength I needed.
Since then, I’ve come to a fuller understanding. When I chose to say yes to His invitation to worship, I entered into a place of communion with Him. It is impossible to be in His presence and remain unchanged. The flow of love between us was not just an emotional feeling. It was a holistic giving of myself to Him. And in response, He poured Himself on me.
The result was not just passion, gratitude, adoration, but also wisdom and creativity. I was learning to love God with my mind.
We often think of love as primarily an emotion, but Jesus defined it as a whole-person experience. Summing up the essence of the Old Testament law, Jesus said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30 ESV). These four terms—heart, soul, mind, strength—combine to give us a picture of loving God with our whole person, with everything we are.
If we look up the original Greek words used in this verse, we find the ideas overlap significantly. Yet each offers a distinct aspect of what it means to truly and entirely love God. We are called to love God with our hearts (our core selves and our emotions), our souls (the essence of our beings, including our will), our minds (our reason, intellect, creativity), and our strength (our bodies, fortitude, capacity).
Similarly, the apostle Paul later prayed for the believers in Ephesus:
…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19 ESV).
Knowing the full dimensions of God’s love is a whole-person experience. It takes more than just the heart or the mind; it takes all we are. And the result is being filled with all of Him. It is incomprehensible—but it is still true.
I believe the poem I wrote that night resulted from the overflow of His presence. My response to His love was not just emotional, but also intellectual. I’m not saying God divinely inspired the poem or that I received it straight from Him. Instead, I used the creativity He had put in me and the skills I had learned, and my act of writing became a manifestation of my love for Him.
Though I grew up in church, until a few years ago, I had never really considered what it might mean practically to love God with my mind, my soul, and my strength. The heart made sense, of course. The others seemed unclear. Since then, I’ve been on a journey of discovering what it looks like to love God with all of me.
I am a thinker and a dreamer. I love wrestling with big ideas. I also love creative writing and the genius involved in really good art. And now I know that this part of me can also be part of loving God. Thinking and loving are not mutually exclusive.
If I am living in God’s presence, filled with His Spirit, every act of creativity can be an act of love. Every strategy and word of wisdom touches His heart. Every moment spent studying Scripture is a choice to engage with the lover of our souls. Whether dreaming about what’s possible or inventing solutions to problems, I can do it with God. I can do it as an act of love.
The Bible tells us that being filled with Christ means“…we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16 ESV). Jesus invites us into a divine exchange, into fellowship with Him—not just in our hearts, but also in our minds.