As we quiet our hearts during Lent, we’ll hear from the women of our church on their practice of spiritual disciplines. Every believer is on a transformational journey to grow in our relationship with the Father and become more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our own efforts cannot accomplish this, but we do get to participate in the process. Even though the Bible doesn’t lay out a concise list of spiritual disciplines, the life of Jesus is our powerful example. The spiritual disciplines can usually be organized into two categories: abstinence (giving something up) and action. As we look forward to Easter, let’s see how we can pause certain parts of our lives in order to pursue Christ. Check out our previous posts on Contemplation, Stewardship, Fasting, Confession, and Prayer.
Meditation is a word that brings to mind certain imagery. I tend to think of taking time out of my day, sitting on the floor with my legs crossed in the most uncomfortable way possible and humming to myself. Mercy! Who has time for that! However, before we dismiss this idea of meditation as one of the disciplines we put on the shelf of “I just don’t have time for that”, I want for us to ponder what the spiritual discipline of mediation might look like in our own personal lives. I want to ask you to set aside any preconceived notions you might have of meditation. I want you to release any and all comparative tendencies you struggle with of how mediation might, could, or should look and simply ask the Lord what it should look like in your own personal unique walk with Him.
Like many of you my mind is plagued with thousands of thoughts a day. I’m considering and processing, dreaming and working, forgetting then remembering then forgetting again. I joke often with my husband that my brain runs like a series of pop up screens on a computer just like I do in real life. When on my computer I usually have no less than six open windows, bouncing from one thing to another, whether it be grocery shopping, lesson planning our homeschool week, meal planning for the month, writing, surfing Amazon, or perusing Pinterest. Now, I do not know if you are like me, but when it comes to spiritual disciplines I admit that I struggle immensely on all fronts of developing any kind of discipline. My natural inclination is to operate in spontaneity in the day to day happenings and I hate being told what I should be doing. I am as strong willed as they come and that can be great and terrible all at the same time.
Some years ago when I was struggling with deep anxiety and depression the Lord led me to Isaiah 26, a song of Salvation.
Our city is strong!
We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation.
Open the gates to all who are righteous;
allow the faithful to enter.
You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
When I read this passage verse 3 specifically struck me, “You will keep in perfect peace ALL who trust in you and ALL whose THOUGHTS are fixed on you!” The word “thoughts” grabbed my attention immediately. What did that specifically mean “thoughts?” Was it saying that every thought needed to be centered on Jesus? So, I dove a little deeper and looked up what the original Hebrew word for “thoughts” means.
The Hebrew word for “thoughts” in this verse is yetser which translates more accurately as: purpose, imagination, device (intellectual framework).
One of its meanings is IMAGINATION. Stop! What was that? Imagination? With that translation I then rephrased the verse: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you and all whose IMAGINATION is fixed on you.” With a simple word study I am now able to more fully grasp what this verse means and how to apply it to my life. Then I was brought to this verse:
“I do live in the world. But I don’t fight my battles the way the people of the world do. The weapons I fight with are not the weapons the world uses. In fact, it is just the opposite. My weapons have the power of God to destroy the camps of the enemy. I destroy every claim and every reason that keeps people from knowing God. I keep every thought under control in order to make it obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:3-5 NIRV)
The enemy has set up camp in our minds. We are not being renewed and we are fighting a war we feel we are losing more than we are winning. We are fighting the battle for our minds, the anxiousness, the sadness, the loneliness with worldly weapons. We engage in mindless activity in hopes of drowning out the world instead of engaging our imaginations, summoning the weapons of our warfare…our faith.
Our thoughts and imaginations wander every direction. We have a million pretend conversations in our head, we fantasize about what if’s and possibilities, some benign and some unholy, if we are honest with ourselves. I have allowed my wounds to fester in my imagination and become imprisoned there. What if we allow our thoughts and imaginations to wander about who He is? About his mercy and grace in our lives, about the sovereignty he has shown, to recall the Ebenezer faith moments of how God showed up, about how our surrender led to promise and provision, about his beauty and majesty. Meditation does not have to be periods of time alone in silence, it can be. However, it can be spent in conversation with friends over a meal talking about how good God is, or a walk, or listening to music and simply allowing our imagination to run wild in the fields of his wondrous goodness and grace. It can be spent in reflection of scripture and in it’s study allowing our minds to be renewed by the washing of the Word.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Hebrew 12:1-2 (NLT)