Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fifty Thousand Thoughts

I was watching a new episode of the television show “House” recently and saw a segment called “House Call.” It is a fifteen second spot that presents interesting medical facts. This one was entitled “Thoughts.” (You can watch it here.) It stated that humans have about 50,000 thoughts a day. That is 2083 thoughts per hour or one thought every 1.2 seconds. That is almost as many junk emails as I get!

I have been thinking about those thoughts. It seems like an awful lot of thoughts. It does not leave much time for other things. But I know that it is true. My mind is a never-ending thought-producing machine.

Many of my thoughts are repetitive cycles of thoughts. I continuously rehearse the past or speculate about the future. Too many of the thoughts are negative. I read Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” years ago. It didn’t help. The more I try not to think negative thoughts, the more they appear.

It is like someone saying, “Don’t think of pink elephants.” Well, of course pink elephants pop into your mind. Then I start thinking of whether they are African or Asian elephants, and how a pink elephant could be born of a regular elephant, and where that recessive gene could have come from, and so on.

After thinking so many worthless thoughts, I have decided that thinking does not get me anywhere.  Even when I think godly thoughts, they don’t seem to bring me closer to God. Thinking thoughts about God keeps me bound to my restless mind instead of enjoying rest in the Spirit. Thinking about God becomes a substitute for experiencing God.

Thinking seems to erect a barrier to God. That is a rather disturbing thought for a pastor. I have been trained as a theologian. My job is to think about God and communicate those thoughts to my congregation in thoughtful sermons. It’s what I do; I’m a preacher.

But this preacher is thinking that thinking is an inadequate approach to God. It is all right as far as it goes; it just doesn’t go far enough. At some point in your thinking you come to the limit of thought. Then all you can do is point beyond thoughts in the direction of God.

You often have to use words to point, but they are words that point to the Reality beyond thoughts. They are triggers of faith. Faith is not believing thoughts for which there is insufficient evidence. Faith is stepping beyond thoughts into the realm of Spirit.

Faith is resting in the Ground beneath thoughts. It is living in the space between thoughts. If we have 50,000 different thoughts a day, then there are also 50,000 spaces between the thoughts, however brief they may be. That is where we meet God - fifty thousand times a day. What a glorious thought! Our minds are filled with God. We just have to know where to look!

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