“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…And the God of peace will be with you.” – (Phillipians 4:8-9)
“Now try to not think about anything.” My dad would say this to me on our runs through the riparian forest along the Danube. It did usually stop me from chattering away for a while. But stop thinking? Oh my! That never worked for me.
Have you ever wished you could just turn off your thoughts? Reach a blissful empty state of mind? Apparently, Descartes didn’t think this was possible (“I think, therefore I am.”). Is it true that our being and our thinking are inseparable?
In Western culture, the head and heart describe separate spheres. Head signifies our rational, analytical functions, while heart represents our emotional capacities. In the Jewish tradition, however, the heart is the seat and center of the whole person, the core of personal character, including thought, emotion, will, intuition, and imagination. The Christian church inherited this understanding of heart. Indeed, we would be rather mindless without a heart!
But how can we find rest from our endless file of thoughts? “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Augustin knew by experience that mental rest can’t be achieved by absence of thought. Finding quiet is the result of a heart tuned in to God.
Use the following quote by Marjorie J. Thompson on whole-hearted worship as food for your thoughts.
“Worship ushers us into the presence of the living God and demands the attention, receptivity, and response of our whole being. It asks us to disengage from the nose-length focus of daily life and see below the surface to life’s source. We can then reengage the realities of the world from a deeper and clearer perspective.” – Marjorie J. Thompson
Prayer of Response:
Lord, today, help me cultivate a “theological mindfulness”. In your grace, guard my heart and mind at rest in Christ Jesus. Let your peace transcend my understanding.
Questions to Ponder:
- How can responding to God with your entire heart help you find mental rest?
- In our time and culture, what is at stake if we don’t rest our minds more often?
—Submitted by Gudrun Reeves
Gudrun Reeves lives and works with her husband in Champfleuri, a Christian retreat center near Grenoble, France where the only French-speaking Torchbearer school takes place. Our stated mission for our camp work might well be “A time away with God”, but the personal practice of finding true rest is a constant challenge, even for missionaries.