Alone in the Spotlight

The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.

Proverbs 14:8

A simple woman believes anything, but a prudent woman gives thought to her steps.

Proverbs 14:15

Summer’s over – it’s back to the routine of the fall. Even if you’re finished with school, fall just seems to have an order about it that summer resists. It’s time to get back into a fitness routine, to start that pottery class or join that community softball team and maybe start going to church more regularly.

In your emerging daily routine, do you have time carved out for thought? Does that sound crazy? We’re constantly thinking, aren’t we? Yes, but most of the time, we’re not controlling our thoughts. They just happen in response to whatever is going on around us. That is very different from focused thought, important time spent alone, without music or other distractions, with no one else in the room or even in earshot – a time we focus our thought and control its content.

If we’re so busy that we can’t squeeze in 15 minutes to sit and think, maybe we can have this time when we first wake up, on our drive to work or school (if we don’t have to navigate a lot of traffic) or at a break between classes or on lunch break. Maybe we can find a spot outside or at least near a window. We can even incorporate focused though with exercise, like a jog or a walk, or with mindless chores like ironing, vacuuming or washing windows. At very least, we can practice this while we’re in the shower each day – that’s one thing we ought to be doing daily, and alone!

The time we spend in focused thought is in addition to the time we’ve already allotted for our daily devotionals – reading the Bible and other devotional aids and prayer. We can certainly add this on to that time, or we can select another time slot and spread the mental and spiritual health more evenly throughout the day. During daily devotions, we speak to God in prayer and God speaks to us through the Bible and through other God-inspired writing. But we need to give God some uninterrupted and uncorrupted quiet time to speak to us through our thoughts as well. Don’t just read a devotional, rattle out a prayer and dash off to start the day. Give God a chance to speak through thoughts.

That’s what quiet time is, really. As we calm our mind from outside distractions, we will discover eventually that this time is fertile with fresh ideas for resolving problems, making important decisions and drafting vision for our future.

At first, we might find that we spend our quiet time worrying or obsessing. This is a symptom that our mind indeed is in need of some disciplined calm. Learn to quiet the mind. We can imagine ourselves standing in a dimly light room, but we are in the middle of a spotlight cast on the floor. We stand with a broom in our hand. If any thoughts of worry, obsession or daily trivial matters creep in like cockroaches on our spot of light, we sweep them away and concentrate again on the emptiness of our spot of light. In a few minutes of guarding our spotlight against creepy-crawly thoughts and maintaining the emptiness of the spotlight, our mind feels peaceful and then the spot of light grows bigger and as it grows, it drives back the creepy-crawlies in the shadows. There in the fully illuminated space will be the bright ideas, good decisions and glimpses of our purpose in life. In that still light we can hear the voice of God. Even five minutes a day of quiet reflection can enable us to better see the path of truth and avoid the pitfalls of deceit.

Decide today at what time you will fit quiet thought into your daily routine. And begin tomorrow.

Hold this thought: I need some time alone in peaceful thought each day.

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