Mind Like Water Is Possible!

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

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.
Psalm 119:71

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.

Eternal Perspective

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?


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  • http://www.rethinker.org David Litwin

    Hey Chris, great post.
    For me gaining a “mind like water” occurred through a two year media fast, where I turned off the television, music and the entertainment side of the internet for 24 months. i didn’t do it for moral reasons, I did it because I felt like I heard clearly from God that I should, and the best I can describe it was that I, ‘disconnected from the noise.” I filled my time with 3-4 hours of prayer, meditation, scripture reading (especially Proverbs) and then reading about 70 books (philosophy, spirituality, Christian inspiration, social commentary, etc.).
    Once I disconnected, I not only experienced peace, but began to hear a different Voice much more clearly and intimately, the Voice that couldn’t be heard very often over the noise, until I willingly disconnected.
    That Voice led me to fill journals, speak inspiration and encouragement over everyone around me, open up opportunities to speak at events like Promise Keepers, and guided me though writing two (almost three) books.
    What I’ve realized is that far too many believers speak out of what they have LEARNED, rather than speaking the words that the Voice of God inspires them to spea, and act according to His daily guidance. The problem with speaking what we have learned is that it doesn’t work universally; it may connect with one and not with another. So we need daily, if not hourly, discernment of what to say, and how to act, each moment of every day. Then we can be certain we are speaking transformational words that can move mountains. And that, most often, comes through having a mind like water.

    • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

      Wow, David! That is awesome!

      I am jealous of your experience and have to think about how I could do something similar. Just curious – what time in your life was this 2 year fast? I cannot imagine myself staying true to that commitment with three teenagers, a wife, etc. What were your main challenges in the beginning of this period? How did you hold yourself accountable?

  • http://www.rethinker.org David Litwin

    I was about 35 when I did the fast. I had my wife and my seven year old daughter, so it’s possible to do despite the pull of the family. Honestly, I thought it was going to be impossible, but within two weeks it was no problem at all. The main motivator was beginning to hear God’s Voice more clearly, and then nothing else mattered (how can ‘Survivor’ or ‘The Simpsons’ compete with that?).
    What was amazing wasn’t just hearing God’s Voice more clearly, but the impact it was having in the lives of those around me. Around the sixth month, people would ask me where I had gotten my philosophy degree (which I didn’t have). I became sought after for being able to understand and provide solutions
    to the business and personal issues of those I knew (or would be
    brought to me). By the 9th month I became the “Proverbs’ fortune cookie guy.” That is probably the biggest secret of the experience. Read Proverbs daily, it’s one of two books in the Bible that God promises you will gain Wisdom from, simply by reading the text itself (Revelation is the other).
    Now I have people that call me the “metaphor man,” as I am often able to break down complex issues in faith and culture with simple to digest stories or metaphors. But all I really do is just listen to where the still, small Voice guides the conversation. :)

    • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

      Thank you for sharing that! I will pray about what I need to do in response to hearing your story. I know there is something here for me and I look forward to seeing what it is.

      • http://www.rethinker.org David Litwin

        Thanks Chris! Feel free to contact me at any time if you start and need advice or encouragement. live inspired!