What Are You Thinking About
Albert Einstein called it “sitzen denken” or “ sit thinking”. It is said that he would stop what he was doing no matter how important and take time to sit and think. This consistent discipline was not at all meditation, which can be defined as the relaxation of the mind with the hope to gain clarity. But "Sitzen Denken" is something very different. It is extreme concentration on a single issue. It is focused thought that totally encompasses your being until whatever one is thinking about has been resolved or exhausted. Both require time and the result is the same but the processes are very different. If Einstein’s success was at all connected to his “sitzen denken” it is certainly a worthy discipline for anyone to practice no matter their place in this world.
For myself I have found that sometimes the intensity of a task requires me to walk away from it for a while so that when I return to it I have gained a fresh new perspective. Sometimes this new perspective comes from just taking a break but many times I know it is releasing this task to God and allowing him to work. By the way, doing this I discovered God is in the small tasks of life and it has taught me how much he cares about the little things. At the same time I recently realized how much Einstein’s practice of “sit thinking” is needed in my life. The solitude, concentration and focused thought on the things of God are precious but often taken for granted. Our minds are powerful tools. Those things we allow our mind to focus on can pull our hearts to places that are destructive and reinforce thoughts that are not true. While it’s not my intention to focus on myself or my circumstances whether good or bad it happens by default unless I commit to the words of the Psalmist.
"I will focus on your honor and majestic splendor, and your amazing deeds!" Psalm 145:5
To sit and think about the things of the Lord and to focus on him has a powerful effect on my heart. Recently I have been given the gift of time along with a lot of uncertainty. It forces me to bring every thought into captivity because my mind is a dangerous place. Extreme focus and forced concentration seem to be necessary tools in the battles we fight in our mind every day. Fixing my thoughts on God’s greatness changes my perspective on everything and everyone I encounter. Fear becomes courage, conflict becomes peace, hate becomes love and disobedience becomes righteousness… I could go on. Most of all I become small and God becomes big. That’s the way it’s supposed to be because that’s the way it is. I see things the way they are and not the way my sinful mind and heart have convinced me they are. I look squarely into the heart of God and He makes it about him. That’s a moment by moment battle.
To fight this battle as though it were only physical would inevitably result in defeat every time. Whether it is relational, financial, emotional etc… it is all spiritual. The Apostle Paul wrote,
For though we live as human beings, we do not wage war according to human standards, for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Much more powerful than Einstein’s "Sitzen Denken" is the discipline of focusing on the majesty and splendor of God. Einstein’s focus was purely on the physical but for the Christian ours is spiritual. For in the spiritual the stakes are higher and the benefits are eternal.