Have you ever wished you could open the Bible and read it for the first time? What if you could hear the words with new ears and see them with new eyes? How would it feel to rediscover the words you’ve heard for so long that you’ve stopped hearing them, like the sock on the living room floor that magically disappears because you have walked by it too many times without picking it up and doing something about it?
I suggest that we put the words of scripture to work in our brains by meditating on them. Meditation is the spiritual discipline we’re leery of. Isn’t it sort of Eastern? Isn’t it a lot of hard work and sort of out there? It sounds as if it’s only for saints and varsity-level Christians!
Here’s the truth about Christian meditation: Yes, it takes mental effort. No, it’s not out there or dangerous. The goal is not to empty one’s mind for occupation by whatever random thought floats by. Instead, we use that time of quiet focus for solid and comprehensive consideration of scripture–either memorized verses or selected words on the page before our eyes.
Christian meditation is a time of quiet focus for solid and comprehensive consideration of scripture–either memorized verses or selected words on the page before our eyes.Tweet
A Guided Meditation on Deuteronomy 6:4
Let’s practice together!
In my role as chief operating officer and sandwich maker in our family mowing business, one fringe benefit is the privilege of either pushing or riding on a mower within sight of beautiful Penobscot Bay. Last Tuesday, as we caught up on our mowing after a rainy weekend, my hands and feet did their thing while my brain ransacked one short verse:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!Deuteronomy 6:4
The words of the verse were already in my head and heart, so word by word, I considered this ocean-dwarfing truth about God.
Hear–Am I treating God and his Word like the sock on the living room floor, walking on by without paying attention to what’s required of me? What is God saying to you about your attentiveness to his words and his ways?
O Israel–Sometimes I picture the nation of Israel with their fingers in their ears. The Old Testament is a tragic tale of God speaking–loud and clear!–and his people failing to respond. But don’t be too hard on that disorganized rabble of former slaves. After all, they didn’t have a written word or the New Testament or the indwelling Holy Spirit… [ahem]. Let’s practice inserting our names after the word “hear,” because God continues to speak to you today. Are you in a hearing posture?
The Lord–Lordship is leadership. Could a casual observer of your life discern that God is your Leader and your Lord?
Your God–One of the reasons present day believers give the side eye to the nation of Israel in the Hebrew Bible is their continual slide into idolatry, forgetting that, just like us, they were surrounded by pagan nations with all their competing deities. How’s your relationship to the first and second commandments? Are their “other gods” in your life? Who or what is your heart bowing down to these days? If you need help discerning an answer, consider first how you are using your time.
The Lord–Here it is again! What one very specific area do you need to hand over to the Lord of your life today? It’s one thing to say, “Take my life, Lord,” but quite another to say, “Be Lord over the way I talk to my husband,” or “I give you, God, total control of the way I use my free time.”
Is One–Here’s a horizon-filling concept that will occupy your mind for all eternity! As bizarre as monotheism was in the ancient world, it’s pretty foreign to us as well, particularly if we force ourselves to do business with the mystery of the Trinity. In order for us to know him, God took on a body and came to earth as a man and then descended on the New Testament church and continues to indwell believers, and yet he is one, and he is God alone.
Make a Practice of Scripture Meditation!
You can see, now, from this little exercise that originated on the business end of a push mower that meditating on scripture is a natural part of the believer’s formation and a spiritual discipline that honors the words of God–while changing your life!
In my June newsletter (they show up in subscribers’ inboxes on the third Thursday of every month), I’ll be sharing a PDF based on this guided meditation, something printable that you can keep with you and use as a format for pondering first this verse, and then your own familiar verses. If you’re already a subscriber to the newsletter, just watch your inbox in the early morning of June 17. If not, just click on the button below to subscribe:
Is Scripture meditation a regular part of your spiritual formation? If so, I’d love to hear about what’s working for you! If not, I hope you’ll venture into the practice with me!
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you,
Meditating on scripture is a natural part of the believer’s formation and a spiritual discipline that honors the words of God–while changing your life!Tweet
My friend Sarah Geringer has written compellingly about Christian meditation in her book Transforming Your Thought Life: Christian Meditation in Focus. Joining the likes of Thomas Chalmers, Geringer argues for the “expulsive power of a new affection” as God’s thoughts and values, communicated through the Bible, become a replacement for a host of negative mindsets that plague us and range on a bandwidth from negativity and passing discontent to crippling self-criticism, toxic unforgiveness, and debilitating anger or guilt.
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