I was thinking about that word the other day--subliminal. Wondering how much is inside of me that I'm not aware of and to a great extent not privy to. So I looked it up and found--obviously--that something precedes it: liminal. Hmm. That's a new one. Liminal. Not to be confused with limn, which means "to draw a quick sketch". Liminal refers to the "limen" which simply means "threshold". The entryway. So when we're dealing with anything subliminal, would it be too far a stretch to say that we're referring to perceptions, thoughts, and observations that we have and are operating in that we could be blind to? Things that are coloring our outlook that may not be in keeping with "the mind of Christ" (which Paul says we possess, see 1 Corinthians 2:16)? Things that we are letting in but not questioning first? In thinking about these things, this "unknown quantity", I'm reminded of a verse in Proverbs (4:23). It says to "Keep (guard) thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life". That word "issues" connotes "source". The source of our life. And again in the twenty-fifth chapter of Proverbs (vs. 28), it says that "He that hath no rule over his spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls."
Nehemiah, when he was picked to return to Jerusalem and rebuild it, began with the walls. He surveyed them by night, going around the city to see firsthand the damage done by other Semite tribes. He writes (2:12): "I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem." This is important because, sometimes, we need to keep silent about the things that God is doing in our lives. Those we tell may or may not have good intentions regarding our recovery, they may not have our best interests at heart. Who knows if the men with him knew what he was planning? Nehemiah then began to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem which in turn enabled the scattered Jews to return and repopulate the deserted city. One thing I should mention is that he refers to God as "my God" many times throughout his book. He was evidently very close to the Lord and considered Him as more than Ruler and Parent. He saw God as friend and companion. During the rebuilding process, he encountered severe opposition from three men from different tribes who tried to keep him from fulfilling his mission. Two of them in particular (Sanballat and Geshem) sought to trick him in to giving up just as things were nearing completion. Needless to say, he succeeded. "The God of Heaven, He will prosper us" (2:20) The city, however, was a ghost town upon completion of the walls. The mental-picture this gives rise to is stunning:
"Now the city was large and great: but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded." (Nehemiah 7:4)
Our heart, our spirit, is the threshold of our life. The writer of Psalm 119 says that he had "hidden [God's] word in his heart that he might not sin against [Him]." (vs. 11)
And this is the link. When we fill our heart with God's word, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:13), then the Holy Spirit enables us to "guard our heart". He is a gift to us. "He sees to the very depth of our being", as my dad would say and it's He who cares about what goes on in our life that we're blind to. The Holy Spirit is there, on our insides, and the more of God's word that we're willing to fill our heart with—as did the psalmist with his heart and the Jews with their city—the more the Holy Spirit will be able to illumine our insides. "The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness" (Psalm 18:28). What walls and infrastructure are to any city, the word of God empowered by the Holy Spirit is to every Christian. And infrastructure—sewers, power, roads—must go in before the houses are built and inhabited. Yet it's the walls that keep out unwanted influences that seek to impinge on our freedom in God. One of the first things that Nehemiah did after finishing the walls was have Ezra read from the law of Moses (chapter 8). To establish God's word as the cornerstone of a free and enlightened community.
One of the benefits of knowing the word as it applies to my situations and circumstances, is that it "[divides] asunder soul and spirit" (Hebrews 4:12). It shows me in stark relief, what is me as a spiritual "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17) and me in my old way of thinking. What is of God, and what isn't. This is how I'm enabled to guard my heart and keep out unwanted (subliminal?) influences, attitudes and emotions. It takes practice and effort. Rome may not have been built in a day but the walls of Jerusalem were completed in record time:
"So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul (the Jewish month which lasts August 19 thru September 16), in fifty and two days." (Nehemiah 6:15)