AN eminent consultant was asked by an accounting department how he spent his time. He replied, ``Time spent just thinking.'' ``For that you expect to be paid?'' asked the accountant. ``Yes,'' replied the consultant. ``My thinking is valuable.''
Not all thinking is as valuable as was that consultant's. Daydreaming, letting thought drift into imagining impossible situations, is, of course, time wasted. But opening thought to new inspiration and to problem solving is valuable and rewarding, even though others may not always appreciate how important it is.
We need to turn our thoughts away from distractions that prevent thinking and that postpone problem-solving! That could mean being at home alone in your thinking chair. But it is also possible to be ``alone'' in a crowd. Whether alone or with people, you can find quiet in the midst of confusion in the solitude of thought turned even briefly to God. God sends appropriate answers.
Here's an example. I was preparing a dinner for guests. While I was getting the ingredients together, to my surprise a mouse popped out of my electric range. I chased it, but, to my frustration, the mouse wasn't deterred in the slightest. It ducked behind a cupboard only to reappear. Finally I covered the food and sat down to pray quietly. I listened for God to tell me what to do. Taking time to think brought the assurance that there was a solution. Soon an idea for a simple, harmless way to get rid of the mouse came to me. I acted on the idea. The mouse disappeared. I went back to preparing the dinner, and the mouse never reappeared.
Whether you are solitary or just alone in your thought, you make the most of thinking time when you let God direct your thinking. We can turn to God for direction, inspiration, ideas. Because God is divine Mind, which gives us our intelligence, it comes from God by reflection. We can ``hear'' Mind's ideas, feel God's presence, and be assured of His guidance.
Examples abound in the Bible of people getting off by themselves to talk with God. Moses was alone with God when he received the Ten Commandments. Elijah was directed to escape the wrath of Jezebel by going off alone in the desert. And Matthew's Gospel tells us that Christ Jesus was ``led up of the Spirit into the wilderness'' and remained there forty days (4:1).
Wildernesses often provided thinking places. But wildernesses for working out perplexing problems don't necessarily have to be uninhabited regions. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, describes two aspects of the Biblical meaning of wilderness in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. First she speaks of ``loneliness; doubt; darkness.'' But she goes on to show how our communion with God during these times alone transforms our experience, and this aspect of wilderness is well described as ``spontaneity of thought and idea; the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence'' (p. 597).
Being alone with God can be a wonderful new beginning--or a continuation of our discovery of spiritual reality. If we know that God is Truth and can help us, we look deeper than the way things first appear. This may begin as a dark, lonely, doubtful experience. But it won't remain that way. As we pray, expecting divine Truth to guide us, answers do come. When we know that God is Love, we feel His presence whether or not we are alone. Our thoughts become more spiritualized, wiser, as we feel and obey God's direction.
Prayerful thinking time is not only practical for solving problems and for gaining serenity; it is essential for doing creative work. Inspiration comes with beautiful precision when we know it comes from Mind, God, and listen for His direction. Ideas, whether they come slowly or in deluges, need to be wisely considered. They need to be nurtured by a feeling of closeness to God. Then we perceive which ideas are right for our present use.
Thinking time can be valuable, especially if it is spent listening to God.