The Lost art of Thinking

Be still, and know that I am God; Psalm 46:10 NKJV

I have a friend I meet every week before prayer meeting at the Mexican restaurant in town. Sometimes I run a few minutes late and find her just sitting there waiting on me. I’ve suggested to her,

“Bring a book or read something on your cell phone, so you have something to do while you wait. I feel bad for wasting your time.”

She told me,

“I love to just sit and think.”

Photo by Gary Barnes on Pexels.com

When she said that, I remembered reading a short note in a Reader’s Digest issue a few years ago. It was about how we always have our cell phones to entertain us while we stand in line at the store or wait for the doctor at his office. Because of this we no longer have time to just pause and think. The idea was that it is good to just pause, stop and think for a while. After all, before cell phones I had a brain. I guess it would be okay to turn everything else off for a while and just use my brain. My friend at the restaurant sure seems to enjoy it. 

I guess I do too. Often when I go to bed I enjoy listening to my Bible app on audio. However something in the Scripture will get my attention and I have to make a choice. Keep marinating in that one thought, or keep up with the rest of the audio narration. I have learned to pause the audio and just think about a certain thought for a while. Same while I am searching Scripture for myself. I have learned not to measure the quality of my personal Bible study by minutes or chapters, but rather by new ideas and fresh revelations. Sometimes it may take an hour and other times just a second to gain a new idea or revelation. (That does not mean I stop studying after just one second!) I have learned to take a moment and meditate on a passage instead of feeling like I have to finish the rest of a section of Scripture. 

Long before cell phones and Bible apps I was aware of a passage in the book, Steps to Christ, encouraging us to keep our Bible with us. Today I forget that we used to keep books with us before cell phones. So its not like we were totally without “data” before cell phones. Yet I just realized recently there was something I missed in this passage, when I read it back in the day,

Keep your Bible with you. As you have opportunity, read it; fix the texts in your memory. Even while you are walking the streets you may read a passage and meditate upon it, thus fixing it in the mind. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 90

Silly me only picked up on the idea of always having your Bible handy so you could read whenever there is any “down time.” But that is not the actual counsel here. The passage also talks about meditating on Scripture. This resonates with my friend saying she does not always need a book or cell phone to read. She enjoys thinking. The passage is not telling us to read our Bible all the time whether in actual book form or tablet. Either way the message is, put your book or tablet down and think. As a matter of fact let’s read what was written just before the passage we just read,

But there is but little benefit derived from a hasty reading of the Scriptures. One may read the whole Bible through and yet fail to see its beauty or comprehend its deep and hidden meaning. One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 90. 

Even when reading the Bible it does well for us to stop and quietly think for a while. Now please check out this passage that was written long before cell phones and tablets. To me it just goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun. Same issues just different modes of the same old habits. 

Even fiction which contains no suggestion of impurity, and which may be intended to teach excellent principles, is harmful. It encourages the habit of hasty and superficial reading, merely for the story. Thus it tends to destroy the power of connected and vigorous thought; it unfits the soul to contemplate the great problems of duty and destiny. -Ellen White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, Page 383.

I remember reading an article in a business magazine telling bosses not to get onto their employees for just relaxing at their desks doing nothing for a while. They may be brainstorming and that may be when they get their best ideas. I can relate to that. I often get my best ideas for church ministry when I am driving down the road lost in thought or just relaxing on my day off. All this goes back to the brief thought in Reader’s Digest so long ago, or my friend at the restaurant. Its okay to put your book or tablet down and just think for a while. Its more than okay. Its crucial. Its not just okay, it is crucial to be still and know that I am God-Psalm 46:10.

Well I’m going to stop writing so you can…you know….just relax and think for a while. Enjoy!