Several years ago, I found an audio book on the clearance rack at the local Staples office supply store. That book was called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity and it revolutionized how I approach my work day. While I cannot go into the details of the whole program author David Allen proposes, I can tell you that there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from him as well.
Mind Like Water
Getting Things Done (GTD) is a work-life management system that begins with a concept called “mind like water.” This idea is best understood by picturing a quiet pond where the water is perfectly still…not a ripple anywhere. When a rock is tossed into the pond, ripples are created in the water. Throw another rock in and more ripples appear.
If you throw enough rocks into the pond, one after another, then your quiet, still pond is a memory. In its place is rough water, waves and ripples crossing each other as they run from one side of the pond to the other. Do you get the picture?
Now, go back to the original picture of the quiet, calm pond. Your mind is like this water. Without constant inputs, it can be quiet and still. In this state, you can be more creative, more effective, have a sharper focus, etc. When your mind is calm like this pond, getting things done is so much easier. You know exactly what I am talking about!
Life Throws Rocks
Unfortunately, life throws rocks. Every time you are told about something you have to remember, a rock is tossed into your “pond.” When you a meeting is added to your schedule or a report is requested of you, more rocks are tossed in. Pretty soon, sometimes before you are finished with your first cup of coffee, your pond looks like the Atlantic.
Getting Things Done is a system that teaches you how to minimize the ripples from each rock and to get back to “mind like water” quicker (and stay there). I can vouch for its effectiveness as I have been using it for years. It is not simple, but once you get the hang of it, you will never go back!
Spiritual Mind Like Water
Folks, the cool thing is that this idea of “mind like water” also describes our spiritual life. Just think about how easy it is to worship God or pray for extended periods of time WHEN your mind looks like the quiet, still pond. Things seem easier then, right?
Unfortunately, as I have already said, life throws rocks! Sometimes you cannot get out of bed before the anxiety sets in and takes away any peace you thought you had. Whether these rocks come from business issues, family problems, or health concerns (or a combination!), maintaining a spiritual “mind like water” is tough these days.
Even if we manage to escape without waves and ripples for a season, we know it is only a matter of time before the tumult returns. Why is life so hard like this? Why can’t we have more quiet time when our minds are at peace instead of churning through the day?
Its How We Learn
Well, I read a verse today that speaks to this. Here it is:
It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I could learn Your statutes.
I think God knows we learn better when we go through tough times. He knows that we draw closer to him during the storms. Maybe getting things done is easier when there are fewer waves, but He is more interested in our relationship with Him than He is in our getting things done for Him.
So first, recognize that the waves bring us to Him and as a result, help us to learn and mature in our Christian walk. Don’t fight the waves. Instead, ask what you can learn from them.
Constant Tumult Not Necessary
At the same time, God does not necessarily desire for us to be in constant tumult in our minds. The external waves can teach us much, but even in the midst of the storms, God promises that we can have peace!
So even though you will face storms throughout your life, you can still have a peace inside. Your mind can still be like water – absent of anxiety and fear. I wrote several posts on this recently (read them here), but the bottom line is that you must take an eternal perspective on life.
I believe this peace comes from recognizing that this life is temporary and is only a brief glimpse of the eternity we have ahead of us. When we trust God completely, to the point where all anxiety and fear is replaced with peace, then we can experience spiritual “mind like water.”
When we can do this – even for short periods of time – we are better able to hear and understand what God wants us to learn. When we are free from worry about the distractions in this world and focused on His peace, then the insights and wisdom we can gain will astound us.
I encourage you to try Getting Things Done if you need an effective work-life management system. However, more important than that is gaining the eternal perspective that can help you achieve a spiritual “mind like water.” I promise you will never go back!
Have you experienced “mind like water”?
Is your eternal perspective allowing you to have peace in the storms?
What do you need to do next?