28
Apr
21

An Idle Mind

Idle hands are not a problem for me.

Most of the time, I am either doing something or reveling in the fact that I am NOT doing anything.

An idle mind though? That’s another story entirely.

It happened to me just the other day.

Most of the time, I guard against Idle Brain Syndrome pretty well. I’ve read Proverbs 19:15 where it warns, “Laziness brings on deep sleep; an idle person will suffer hunger.” Lord knows I’d do almost anything to avoid hunger.

So, when I am in the middle of a monotonous or repetitive activity (like exercising or working in the yard), I am pretty good at finding ways to keep my brain engaged. I will go ahead and offer the spiritual answer right off the bat and tell you that I regularly use that idle time to talk with God. 

But not always. 

[Honestly, I sometimes wonder if God gets a little tired of me and my nonsense. God is too polite to come right out and say it, but I’m sure he wants to interrupt me right at the beginning and say something like, “Again, Russell? You know, we’ve been over this territory AT LEAST six thousand times already! Can you come back later when you’ve got some fresh material?”]

Sometimes I listen to music during my tedious stretches.

At other times I listen to podcasts through my Bluetooth device (… some of my favorites include TED Talks, Hidden Brain, The Next Right Thing, Maybe God, Unlocking Us, and Revisionist History). 

But yesterday, while I toiled away at the wearisome task of putting a brick border around one of our front flower beds, I had NOTHING. No music. No podcasts. No prayers.

Just a dull job and an idle mind. 

And now I know why God seems to be such a non-fan of idle brains. 

That’s because they can go anywhere, y’all! They can latch onto an insipid song lyric and wear it smooth. They can invent entire conversations out of whole cloth and orchestrate them so that I ALWAYS come out on top! They can rehash events from the past that should be left well enough alone. They can start imagining things that might/could/should/ possibly happen at some unspecified time in the future and turn them into a nightmare apocalyptic scenario. 

Or they can just descend into meaningless gibberish. 

And once again I am reminded of the incredible width and breadth of possibilities we possess as human beings. The same brain that can become inescapably fixated on the Baby Shark song is also capable of creating art that stirs hearts and souls, or devising words to soothe a grieving friend, or naming all the states of the U.S. in order alphabetically. 

James, the half-brother of Jesus, once wrote, “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs?” (James 3:11-12, NRSV). 

No. But the human brain can perform an amazing array of complex and even contradictory tasks, all without breaking a sweat. 

And ALL of that is a gift from the God who loves and trusts us.

Is that cool or what?

Abundant blessings;


7 Responses to “An Idle Mind”


  1. April 29, 2021 at 12:11 am

    Very entertaining yet valuable post. 😄 My mind is always a wonderland… I also think a mind is least idle while “unplugged.” Even if I have no idea what I thought about for hours in nature, I thinks it’s better than the passive screen time many do. Loved all of your inner adventures!

  2. April 29, 2021 at 3:03 pm

    My brain is never idle. And like you, I use physical activity, music, podcasts,…and choose the ones that keep my brain looking forward. My heart benefits from this connection. The power of the brain is overwhelming. I suffer from a cognitive impairment after a traumatic brain injury. I’ve learned so much about my own thinking (and when it becomes stinkin’ thinkin’). Thank you for sharing this! God bless you!

    • 4 Russell Brown
      April 29, 2021 at 3:07 pm

      Thanks for that feedback. It sounds as if you could teach me a thing or two about keeping my rambling brain inside the guardrails!

      • April 29, 2021 at 3:11 pm

        You’re welcome, Russell. It’s a daily thing. I still go off the rails at times. I’ll be posting today of some struggles I have with consistency–and how the near flooding of my house yesterday proved to me that HE is with me as the flood waters rise. I just have to keep my focus on the one that calms the water and helps me navigate with truth.

  3. 6 ephesians413
    April 29, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    We can capture those thoughts. It says so in 2 Co 10:5. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” The context is about our warfare and surely we wage war against those idle thoughts. Sometimes, listening to what is going on “up there”, I have to just say that is sooo ridiculous.


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