Too busy to think

We became official citizens of South Carolina now that we have our voter registration, driver’s license and license plates! Much of my life these past three months has been focused on taking care of the important and urgent details right in front of me. However, in the last few days, I have noticed my thinking is becoming deeper.  I am now beginning to think more deeply again.

During this season, I have been naturally trying to survive and simply doing what needs to be done in the moment.  But as I have met the critical or urgent tasks, more significant thought work remained unaddressed.  It wasn’t bad for my thinking to become more immediate and concrete during this season. It was actually essential for it to become so.

However, this is one of several factors influencing our shallow thinking culture today. We are all so busy taking care of the immediate that we are not aware of the deeper things that are passing us by. We become so attuned to our devices, which give instant feedback that we live in a world that is consumed with information and data at a moment’s notice.  Everything is at our fingertips.  And we can have it immediately.  This would have been a dream when I was young with 25-volume encyclopedias to find a small detail, rotary phones with expensive long-distance charges, snail mail via the postal system, only three network television stations, sears catalogs for ordering what wasn’t in a store, and books in a bookstore. All of these were simply reality 50 years ago, but one of the things that all these required was effort and time to get what you wanted. 

We do live in an instant age, and we expect instant results.  When I play Wordle or Connections in the morning, Alexa tells me what I want to know in less than two seconds.  Consequently, our minds are processing so much more information than they used to. According to some research we consume almost 90 times more information in a day than humans did in 1940 and 4 times more than just 20 years ago.  If that is true, we must skim more and dig less, by necessity.  Today the human brain consumes more information in a single day than a scholar consumed in a lifetime five hundred years ago.  Obviously, that was a long time ago, but is there little wonder that people had the opportunity to think more deeply than we do today. 

A good example of this is that it took me less than a minute to access the research on the numbers I reference here. 

I don’t glamorize the past.  Eighty years ago people had to struggle to find what we would call essentials today like food, transportation, shelter, light, heat/cold.  Today, these are a given for many First World people.  Technology has produced many benefits. Yet there are tradeoffs. 

I wonder how much time or effort we spend to deal with deeper issues of the heart and mind?  In Psalm 46.10 we are told, “Be still and know that I am God.”  There are only somethings that we can know by not accumulating more instant information.  Some knowing only comes from being quiet and listening. 

A lifelong friend of mine, Kirk Lauckner, coined the mantra, Soften, Center, Listen, and Respond, to describe a deep life in God.  Kirk is clearly wired differently than I am and is a great musician, so it is easier for him to do this within his heart.  But it is no less important for me.

We need to be silent, soften our hearts to be teachable, center our thoughts, lives and being on our Lord, listen for him to speak to us and then submit our lives to respond appropriately.  It takes time to do this.  Time not consumed with information, but time of reflection. 

As I wander, I learn to wonder.  In other words, as I take time to simply be in God’s presence, he restores my soul.  It is then that I begin to think deep thoughts and experience the wonder in life.  It would seem most of us would like time to wonder.  Unfortunately, I have come to realize that this type of time only comes at the expense of information.  Most people would never know Mary Kay and I do not watch TV.  This isn’t a religious conviction; it is a mental health commitment for us.  We will watch a movie or sports event occasionally, but I didn’t even watch the presidential debate!  I did read several synopses of it from different political perspectives the following day and I learned what I needed to know.

Again, I don’t prescribe this for anyone else; however, it has provided Mary Kay and me time to act more intentionally, think more deeply and love others more intimately.  We are far from having perfected this.  We are on a journey. When we get detoured by events, like moving several states away, we try to reorient our lives accordingly again. 






2 responses to “Too busy to think”

  1. Mike Moschos Avatar
    Mike Moschos

    1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

    And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.


    have suffered a little while (impacting your time with the Lord)

    Much of my life these past three months has been focused on taking care of the important and urgent details right in front of me.

  2. […] On our vacation last month, my daughter-in-law asked me what good books I was reading. I sheepishly said I haven’t been reading much lately (as I wrote about this last week—Too Busy to Think).  […]

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