Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
– Philippians 4:8-9
“The Quakers had many fine ideas about life, and there is a story from them that illustrates the point I am trying to make. It concerns a conversation between Samuel Taylor Coleridge and a Quaker woman that he had met. Maybe Coleridge was boasting a bit, but he told the woman how he had arranged the use of time so he would have no wasted hours. He said he memorized Greek while dressing and during breakfast. He went on with his list of other mental activities – making notes, reading, writing, formulating thoughts and ideas – until bedtime.
“The Quaker listened unimpressed. When Coleridge was finished with his explanation, she asked him a simple, searching question: “My friend, when dost thee think?’
“God is having a difficult time getting through to us because we are a fast-paced generation. We seem to have no time for contemplation. We have no time for God when He calls.”
– Rev. A. W. Tozer, Jesus, Author of our Faith
Regarding the Tozer quote, guilty!
As the Apostle Paul says, we need to think upon the things of God, and not just a passing notion.
You aren’t satisfied with me just saying that I am guilty? Okay, for fourteen years, I have averaged reading over 100 books per year. For most of those years, I didn’t count the Bible study books that I read. I still don’t count my Bible reading in that. I am trying to cut down, but I can almost stop right now, after four months and make the record of fifteen straight years, averaging 100+ books per year. What happened before the streak, I had a year with only 18 completed books. That is a streak stopper. I was working fulltime for most of those years. I suppose that it may have stemmed from the empty-nest syndrome, what to do with the extra time. But it was my way of relieving stress.
How do I know how many books I have read? I keep spreadsheets on everything. During those years, if the boss asked, I could give him a detailed status report on every project that I worked on. But, I could also tell him the title and author of the past twenty books that I read, along with who the protagonist was in each book.
I also taught Sunday school for all those years. I was on various church boards, committees, and teams.
“My friend, when dost thee think?”
Coleridge was a poet, philosopher, and literary critic. He thought a lot. I am sure the question caused him to pause – and think.
I would have to think long and hard to answer that question. This year my reading has slowed down on purpose, just to think and spend quiet time with God more. I have learned that I don’t have to overachieve.
In fact, I am evolving, a little at a time. My best subject in school was always math. Even in engineering, I liked to reduce the science down to the mathematics. I have an ‘app’ that tests my mental acuity. One of the tests is math. Each time I see the math test come up on my random daily sampling of tests, I groan. It reminds me too much of work.
Of course, the best way to evolve is sanctification, becoming a little more like Jesus every day. That leads back to that quiet time with God.
What was Tozer’s point in his little tale between Coleridge and the Quaker? To remind us that we need more quiet time with God. In our fast-paced society, the clock is always ticking, and the deadlines keep getting closer. Yet, sometimes to be more efficient, you need to spend more time thinking. To think, you need to be able to clear your head. Somehow, the boss doesn’t give you enough time for either thinking or clearing your head. It then breaks down into working doggedly harder. That gets the job finished, but you aren’t happy with the result, and instead of getting a day to relax, you get the next project with an even more ridiculous deadline and even harder work.
As Tozer says, God has a difficult time being heard over all the noise of the overworked.
Yet, I have learned that waking up earlier in the morning gives me extra time to do my devotions and spend more time in prayer. I might go to bed earlier on some days, but I want at least three hours of time to get to an appointment. Two hours to spend with God, and one hour to get ready and get there.
When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we make an ‘all-in’ commitment. When we have a family to support, family time and work time to support the family cannot be sacrificed. Yet, there are still hours left in the day. God is trying to get your attention. Are you too busy? My friend, when dost thee think?
Soli Deo Gloria. To God be the Glory Alone.