Redeem Your Boredom!

What do you do with those moments of downtime that pop up throughout the day?  You know, those moments when you’re sitting in traffic, standing in line, waiting to be picked up, waiting for your coffee to brew.  I’ll tell you exactly what I do, I pick up my phone.  I do it almost reflexively.  After all, there’s ALWAYS something new on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,, or your favorite news site to check out. When I’m feeling indulgent I’ll check Facebook. When I’m feeling more sophisticated I’ll check the news. But whatever the content, the reflex is always the same.

Whenever I’m bored, even for a moment, I have something to fill my mind with.  If I’m driving it's the radio. If it’s on a free night it’s Hulu or Netflix. If it’s at my desk it’s the LA Times website.  It hit me like a ton of bricks the other day, I have lost the ability to be bored.  I don’t need it any more.  I have everything in my capacity to never have to be bored again.  

The problem is twofold. First, great blessing can come from being bored. Second, when I fill my mind reflexively with all these other things, I am consequently not filling my mind with biblical truth. Let’s look at these one at a time.

First, great blessing can come from being bored. Being bored gives our minds time to relax, imagine, make connections, and evaluate life. When we’re bored we are forced to deal with our thoughts and emotions as they really are.  While this may seem unpleasant at times, it is the route to being honest about ourselves, our desires, and our longings. We then have the opportunity to bring them before God and apply the gospel to them instead of avoiding them or trying to pretend they’re not there.

In addition, when we experience boredom we have the opportunity to choose to think about “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise” (Phil 4:8). Much of our days are spent with others telling us what to think about. When we're bored and distract ourselves with some other form of information input we hand the reigns of our mind over to that media source.

Which brings us to the second problem which is how we fail to fill our minds with biblical truth. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the radio, or Netflix, or your favorite news website, or Twitter. But just because there’s nothing inherently wrong with it doesn’t mean it’s what you should be doing with the majority of your down moments. As Paul wrote, “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up” (1 Cor 10:23).

Is whatever you’re looking at on your computer or your phone building you up? Or is it simply an escape used to chase the boredom away? The first Psalm begins:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)

What is it that you meditate on day and night? Our phones have given us the ability to meditate (think regularly and repeatedly upon a subject) more easily than at any point in history. What is your meditation when you pick up your phone? What is your meditation throughout your day? What is your mind brought back to again and again?

God’s invitation to you and me is for our delight to be in his law and his Word and to meditate on them day and night. When we do, the Psalmist tells us:

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3)

This is readily available for both you and me today. The refreshing experience of being fed and watered regularly by the Word of God, the empowering experience of constantly bearing the fruit that we were created to bear, the energizing experience of prospering at the things in life that truly matter, all three are right there, available for us to engage in. Every moment of every day God’s presence and the sweetness of meditation on his Word are readily available. We just might have to be willing to be bored for a minute first.