How to Live in Four Easy Steps. Part 2: Think About This

Some one once said the mind is a terrible thing to waste, yet we do it everyday. We waste our time, thoughts, and energies on frivolous things, to no purpose or reason than to stay busy.

There is a story that many of you may have heard, of two cronically ill men who shared a hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.

Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it. In his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

Can you imagine? For weeks this man had filled his mind with imagery of beautiful scenery, the glory of God's creation, and humanity at its finest. But for what purpose, there was nothing to see out that window.

But the story doesn't end there. He asked a nurse why the other man had lied about seeing such wonderful sights. The nuse explained that the deceased roommate was blind and could not see a thing. But why? What compelled him? The nurse's only explination was, "perhaps to offer encouragement."

What do you see when you close your eyes? What passions and ideals consume your mind? I think the blind man in the story got it. He knew how to live. There were a lot of other things that he could have been thinking about. It all would have kept his mind busy, but would it have served any greater purpose?

"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." (Php 4:8)

Think about that. How do you keep mentally fit, emotionally centered, and spiritually healthy? It's all about what's inside your head. What do you think about? Is it productive to dwell on your problems? Or to hold onto anger? God's word has given us a blueprint for a healthy frame of mind. To think about truth, honor, justice, purity, beauty, excellence.

What kind of world would we live in if we gave more thought to such good things? Today's world is much the opposite. It thinks about lies, contempt, inequity, wickedness, disgust, and failure. We could do so much better.

In all things, in thought or deed, practice joy. "Rejoice in the Lord always." (Php 4:4) And keep your mind focused, "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Php 4:5-6)

Just think.

(Originally posted on What's Inside on 7/11/06)

1 comment:

  1. I've always liked that story. Good reminder. Thanks!