Posted: 7/7/17 at 10:35am. Column by Ed Jordan.
It seems that one of the most dominant maladies among humans in the world today is boredom. If the kids are in school, they say they’re bored; if they are out of school, they are bored. People go to work and complain of being bored. It seems that while people bemoan boredom, they continually choose to live boring lives.
Why are so many drowning in boredom? Could it be because they prefer comfortable predictability over the excitement of unpredictability? Boredom is living with the predictable and making few fresh discoveries. Boredom flees when the excitement of unpredictability steps into our lives. Could it be that bored people choose vegetating rather than thinking, comfort over discovery?
I am often asked, “How can you come up with new columns and new sermons week after week, year after year, and never seem to run out of fresh ideas. Truthfully, I sometimes ask myself that same question. Sometimes the creative juices just aren’t flowing. There are many factors that contribute to fresh ideas each week.
One factor is continuously, and thoughtfully, reading various types of materials each week. My weekly readings will include passages from the Bible, through which God speaks with fresh insights, even while reading a familiar passage. I also daily read small portions of books, literature, articles, newspapers, or timeless quotes.
Sometimes I read poetry, sometimes historical insights, sometimes research pieces or ideas, as well as listen to songs or music and discover the stories behind them. I also try to spend some time watching interactions in nature or among people. The world is full of fresh ideas and insights; it is our perspectives that get stale and redundant, hence boring.
Too often we are so busy trying to arrive at a destination or goal, that we live boring lives. I read a great quote this week, by Henry Miller in 1957. The quote appeared in Lapham’s Spring 2017 issue on the theme of Discovery. Miller said: “One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.” Places and events are only boring when our viewpoint of them is boring.
I remember being the best man at my friend’s wedding. We were anxiously awaiting the beginning of the ceremony, and standing in the kitchen of a remote little town’s church. A punch bowl was on the table, filled with punch and ice. The groom anxiously picked up the ladle and poured the punch and piece of ice into a cup.
To his surprise, the punch poured into the cup, but the ice remained in the ladle. He was surprised by joy. His pre-wedding jitters were gone as he tried to figure out how this happened. Was this a new invention, a ladle that poured out punch while preventing the ice from splashing into the punch? As he examined the ladle he began to laugh and laugh. There was a spider web across the ladle which held the ice in, while letting the liquid out. That event happened probably 40 years ago, but it still makes me smile.
New discoveries change boredom to delight. Those who eat boring meals rarely try a new dish or an unfamiliar cuisine; those who continually experiment with varieties of foods, flavors and spices actually find few bad meals, and instead encounter a myriad of wonderful new experiences. Eating need not be boring. Add the element of sharing those meals with others, and in varied settings, and life is filled with even more layers of complexity and newness. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, fresh ideas are in the mind of those who are looking for them.
Jesus was once asked, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of God?”(cf. Matthew. 18:2). Jesus responded in Matthew 18:3 (The Message): “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.” Children are continual learners. They are inquiring minds that take the time to notice things that we ignore. They poke and prod things, while exploring and interacting with what is around them.
God is all around us. We are not bored unless we ignore His presence. The world is full of fresh insights. The next time you are bored, explore God’s world all around you, looking at life through fresh eyes for fresh insights.
Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org