Production Values: Meditation

Posted: 2011 07 06 by jmmllr in Discipleship
Tags: ,

Have you ever had a moment in your life where the Bible was painfully silent? When I graduated from High School, my Grandfather gave me a little black book called “God’s Promises for Your Every Need.” It had an index that you could turn to whenever you needed to hear what God says about a particular situation.

If this book doesn't scream TRUSTWORTHY, I don't know what does...

A couple of Summers later, my girlfriend – the first girl I ever loved (mothers and sisters aside) – broke up with me. I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do and wasn’t helped by the fact that my book didn’t have a section of “what to do when you get dumped.” Sure, I found inferences about the Heartbreak of God or the loss people felt about relationships. But none of it was quite what I was looking for.

The only helpful piece of advice that I got came from my former Youth Pastor. “Sometimes”, he said, “you need to stop looking for answers in the book and look for answers in the one who wrote it.” 

I didn’t know it at the time, but what he was asking me to do was meditate. For a lot of us, this word will bring up images of bald buddhists sitting cross-legged and chanting prolonged “ohm”s. But Meditation was a powerful part of Biblical discipleship. From almost the beginning (Isaac mediates in Genesis 24). For those of us in Protestant churches, our idea of meditation involves holing up in a study somewhere and reading the Bible. But I want to challenge that in a couple different ways.

First, Meditation, as often as it appears in the Bible, is done apart from the word of God. (Study is a discipline we’ll come to in a little while). After all, how could Isaac have meditated if even the earliest parts of the Bible hadn’t been written yet? Meditation is a practice, not of learning what God’s word has to say – but of learning who God is. Joshua 1:8 puts it this way: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” When we learn who God is – what His essential character is like – then we’ll be able to put our money where our mouth is. Meditation is essential to the work of sanctification.

Secondly, Meditation is done around the word of God. It’s about cultivating a lifestyle that is in constant communication with the Truth that God hasn’t installed in your brain, but what He’s downloaded into your heart. Meditation is about cultivating lifestyle that is informed by and subject to the correction of the Holy Spirit. We can’t live a Christian Life, regardless of how many spiritual disciplines we practice, if we don’t know what God has revealed about Himself. More than any other chapter in the Bible Psalm 119 (the REALLY long one) tells us to meditate on the words of God. What God has said he is still saying to us – like Elijah on the mountain, God speaks through a whisper saying to us “Here is the way. Walk in it.”

Finally, the only time Meditation is mentioned in the New Testament is in the context of Jesus telling his Disciples what kind of persecution they can expect. “Have what you know about Trusting God’s character figured out by then, because that’s when you’ll need it.” (My paraphrase … but check out Luke 21:12-15) Meditation is about trusting God. In stillness we recognize that the Bible is not just a collection of stories, but is one story that tells who we are, how we got here, what we’re here for, and where we’re going. It’s about trusting that we’re not outside of the story, reading in – but are engaged in it as an ongoing part of life. Meditation is important because when all of our stuff falls apart – the loss of a job, divorce, illness or death (the list goes on and on) we will be able to “Be still and know that I am God” God is still God – even in the midst of the crap life throws at us.

So what’s that mean for us as guys? I think it means taking the time to be still. Guys are programmed to want to do something. Anything is better than sitting back on our butts. So we hide in Video Games or Frat Houses. We bury ourselves in Jobs and commitments. We live in anything that can produces some kind of result in our lives – and wonder why we always come up empty. Guys, how many of you are tired? How many of you are bored? How many of you have something deep down in you that you want to do but can’t? We’re tired because we’ve been chasing results, when the Bible tells us that the first step to success is stillness.

Meditation is the answer. We go in stillness to find the One behind the words. Stop trying to dig up your own answers. All your muscles can ache and it still won’t get you anywhere.

Here’s the thing: It’s HARD. Sitting still is BORING. But with all of these Disciplines hard work is involved. Disciplining ourselves means working against what our natural tendency is. Because we know that our natural tendencies just don’t cut it anymore. Take some time to be still today. A minute or two of uninterrupted stillness will do wonders for your body, and miracles for your soul.

I’m not asking you to be a Monk – or to spend twenty years sitting on top of a flag pole or some other inane show of religious discipline. But I’m asking you to take a step in the right direction. Every trainer I’ve ever worked with at the gym has had their own mantra to drill into me. “Do your best and forget the rest!” or “Pain is just weakness leaving the body!” Here’s mine for you: Better today than yesterday; Better tomorrow than today. Discipleship is about small steps in the right direction. Meditate on that.

All the best,
Jared

Comments
  1. jelillie says:

    Thanks Jared, I think the thing about meditation is that we think it is a whole lot of nothing. So we are almost bored before we start. But I have found that m,editation isn’t really emptying to nothing it is filling to everything. It is only in meditating that I have come across my best ideas (because they are God ideas)!

    • jmmllr says:

      Thanks. “I think the thing about meditation is that we think it is a whole lot of nothing. So we are almost bored before we start.” I think that’s a great way to phrase it. Amen to that.

  2. You just described my situation right now pretty much word for word in that second paragraph! This really hit home for me, and thanks for what you and everyone else here does!

  3. tonyalicea says:

    This is such a great post, Jared. I’ve been incorporating meditation more into my time with the Lord. Rather than read a bunch of scripture, I’ve been taking one passage and just chewing on it. For the past 3 months I’ve been meditating on Philippians 4:6-7. I just keep saying it, thinking about it and letting it sink in. God has opened up so much about these two verses as I’ve done this.

    Meditation is definitely a discipline we need as men of God.

  4. Scottytty says:

    I think we miss the essential need for meditation as a part of our study of scripture. The value of the Bible is ultimately in applying its teaching to our lives — without application, even the Bible is worthless to us. Yet, it is meditating on the Word that helps us flesh out an understanding of its Truth, and see how we can actually apply God’s Word in a real way to our lives. We learn it and play it out in our minds and hearts by meditating on it so that we can act! Really enjoyed the post!

  5. […] me, I see this discipline flowing out of the previous one. We need to make time in our lives for stillness and passivity so we […]

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