Thinking Is Hard Work

I recently rediscovered the popular devotional Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. Quoting from the September 30 entry: “[When your] energy for abundant living spills over the time line into tomorrow’s worries or past regrets[, your] remaining energy is sufficient only for limping through the day, not for living it to the full.” One might add, even if the energy only spills a few hours ahead or a few minutes back–Will I get through this traffic jam and make my appointment on time? Did I just put my foot in my mouth?–it’s as bad as if you were worrying about the literal “tomorrow.” I know. I’ve limped through more than my share of days worrying about whether I’ll finish the whole (usually overloaded and invariably self-inflicted) to-do list.

If you end the week feeling as if you worked eighty hours when you physically worked only forty, it’s entirely possible that you spent twice the needed level of mental energy by letting worries about “getting it perfect” consume your mind. Purely mental activity–particularly when stress-driven–can be every bit as exhausting as intense aerobic exercise, perhaps more, since the former tends to come without any real sense of accomplishment or revitalization. One of the worst and easiest ways to abuse your body is to keep your brain in constant “what if?” mode.

There’s another side of the coin. To truly follow the Scriptural commands; to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind; to seek first His Kingdom; to think constantly of things true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8)–developing these habits requires considerable time and energy, particularly while still at the “new skills” level. If we exhaust ourselves worrying about things going “wrong” and trying to will life to conform to our desires, what energy will be left to cooperate with the Spirit’s molding our new minds and hearts? God works gently and slowly; He will rarely push us into improved character without using a good bit of our own energy as a tool. (Perhaps a sudden and total change, wrought without our cooperation, would be too wrenching a shock for us to bear.) If we refuse to sit still for Him to give us peaceful thoughts for stressful ones, we have no right to complain we “don’t see anything happening.” We must give Him room to work.

Set aside an hour or two today–maybe an hour you’d normally spend watching television. Concentrate on “being still” and fixing your mind on the things of God. Put on some quiet hymn music. Read a few praise psalms out loud. Practice genuine listening in your prayer. Above all else, do this several times a month. Don’t fall into the “I tried it once and nothing happened” trap. God is waiting for you to place the timetable in His hands.

Let go of your craving for control and for doing, and let Him refresh your thought-energy to assist you in doing far greater things for Him.

Leave a comment


  1. Very good insight. I especially like your statement: “If we exhaust ourselves worrying about things going ‘wrong’ and trying to will life to conform to our desires, what energy will be left to cooperate with the Spirit’s molding our new minds and hearts?” That’s something worth pondering. Thanks for sharing!


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