Summary: How well do you get along with yourself? How much truth do I want? These questions are relevant to our ability to meditate. Practical suggestions for how to mediatate. Biblical meditation is distinguished from Eastern meditation that has been popularized
(Fifty Days of Consecration #5)
How well do you get along with yourself? It may seem strange but that is a fundamental question that has to be addressed when we talk about meditation. Before I can effectively get into meditation I have to turn off all the noise and activity that surrounds me. I have to get quiet and still. And what is the first thing I’m going to see when I do that? I wish I could say it is God; but usually the first thing I see is me. And I’m not always comfortable with what I see. Sometimes I see pain that I don’t really want to deal with. Sometimes I see resentment or unforgiveness toward some offense. Sometimes I see disappointment that I have previously brushed aside. Sometimes I simply see the flaws and imperfection of my humanity that I am still trying to overcome. When you get real, real quiet, when you turn off all the noise what do you see? How do you respond to what you are see?
What I have just described is one reason people don’t meditate. It’s not always that we don’t have time to meditate. Sometimes we simply choose to be busy, choose to be entertained rather than meditate. Meditation is scriptural and it can be a powerful part of your Christian life. But there are issues to resolve up from before meditation will become a part of our life style.
I. Before we get into the benefits and practical matters concerning meditation let’s talk about two barriers that we will usually encounter.
Barrier # 1 concerns this issue of how well do I get along with myself? Before I can focus effectively in meditation I will have to deal with some things that may be screaming in my soul. Meditation by definition requires that we focus on a particular thing—that we give full attention to that one thing—that all other distractions are set aside. Suppose I wanted you to focus on the taste and nutritional value of milk. I set you in a room and put before you a cold glass of milk and a simple chart of the vitamins in that milk. Your assignment is to ponder the subject of milk. Think about the vitamins and nutrients that are in that glass of milk. Appreciate the health that can come into your life when you drink that milk. Taste and see that it is good. That is not too difficult of an assignment –except that in that room where you are to meditate on milk I am also going to place two hungry lions. How good of a job would you do in regard to the milk? The lions would be such a distraction, no matter how much you wanted to concentrate on the milk your mind would really be upon those two hungry lions. “What am I going to do about those?” Before I can meditate effectively I may have to kill a few lions first. At least when I begin the meditation process (when I get quiet and still) I can face those lions and deal with the reality.
So after we get the external noise quiet we begin dealing with the internal noise in the soul. When you do that make sure you don’t run from what you see and hear. Do you hear your conscience telling you to forgive somebody? Then take time to deal with that in prayer. You may have to wrestle some with your own feelings. You may ultimately have to tell yourself to do the right thing regardless of how you feel. But resolve the issue. Maybe your conscience is telling you to stop doing something that you know is wrong. You can’t stop it without the grace of God. But you can make a choice to stop it and then seek God for strength to overcome. I think many of us are masters at brushing disappointments aside without working through them. But what happens when I get quiet before God—that disappointment is right there in my face. What do I do with it? I deal with it honestly before God. In Exodus 5 God has sent Moses to Pharaoh. Moses obeys God and confronts Pharaoh about releasing Israel. What was the result? Pharaoh took the straw away and demanded the same number of bricks from the Hebrew slaves. Have you ever obeyed God and things got worse? If that wasn’t bad enough, his own people turned on him as well. I think it would be safe to say that Moses was real disappointed with his ministry at that point in time. Now watch how Moses prays concerning that disappointment. Ex 5:22-23 “Moses returned to the LORD and said, ‘O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.’” Do you know why that was such a great prayer? It was an honest conversation about what he was really feeling. I remember a disappointment I went through about fifteen years ago. I knew I shouldn’t be disappointed with God. God is perfect. He makes no mistakes. There’s no real justification for being disappointed with God. Theoretically it does not make sense. And for that reason I told myself that everything was fine. I reminded myself how faithful and just God is. I did a lot of nice, religious things. But when it was all said and done—bottom line, I was very hurt, very disappointed in what God had allowed to take place in my life. And with all those feeling, I stayed real, real busy for God—because I didn’t want to get still and deal with all those feelings. I know you know this—but isn’t it amazing how we loose sight of simple truth like this—God knew exactly what I was feeling, no matter how nice I was on the surface. When I finally got honest with God about the pain I was feeling—I eventually worked through it and meditation got a whole lot easier. Do you know how hard it is to prepare sermons when you’re ticked at God? Well, I’ll just put it this way—a lot of the sermons were about disappointment. Moses faced his pain and disappointment in a conversation with God. Psalms is the best prayer book I know. Now listen to some of the prayers you find there. Ps 10:1 “Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Ps 44:23-24 “Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep?