Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night. Psalm 1:1-2
This week I went backpacking with my prayer partner, Dexter. I went to a place that is special in the Chambers family down in the Sangre De Cristos. As I walked the trail up to North Colony Lakes it occurred to me that I first walked that trail 50 years ago. I noticed the meadows had shrunk since the first time I walked through them. The beaver ponds were gone. The lone tree in lone tree meadow was dead—beetle kill.
The trail was steeper too. The lake was smaller, but the fish were bigger.
I noticed a couple of other things on that trip. First, Dexter Dog never moved very far from me. He would run off a little way, smell what he needed to smell and explore what he needed to explore, but always looking back towards me as if needed assurance that his master was nearby. When we would rest or just sit on the alpine tundra above treeline, he would sit at my feet and look out over the vistas.
The second image is of a flower. A Rocky Mountain Sunflower. (AKA, Alpine Sunflower, Four-nerved Daisy, Graylocks Rubberweed, or Old-man-of-the-mountain) The sunflower doesn’t have much to do to fulfill its purpose. Really, if the soil conditions are right, all it has to do is face the rising sun and follow its movement across the cobalt blue sky all day long. All it has to do is keep facing the sun.
The ancient Church fathers have been known to say that nature is the second book of God. God spoke to me in that Alpine Sunflower. Do you know what he said? No matter what is happening in your world or not happening, always, always, always, keep your face towards the Son. I remember wondering what my life would look like if I related to God the way Dexter related to me in the wilderness.
Dexter found security at my feet and leaning against me in the tent at night. The sunflower felt the sustenance from the sun by day and the expectation of morning warmth through the night.
How do I experience what the dog and the flower found naturally?
The Hebrew word “meditate” is the word hagah. Which means to mutter to yourself, to talk to yourself, to muse, to ponder.
You’ve seen a dog “worry” its bone. He chews on it beside the fireplace, picks it up and takes it in the other room and licks, chews, and even lays on top of it.
This tells us a couple of things about meditation:
Think about the Word of God.
In eastern meditation, you are to empty your mind of all thoughts, but here we are told to worry over the “love letter” of the Lord. To sit with it. To reflect on it. To internalize it. Meditation is a prayerful reflection on what God has told you in His word. It is responding to God. It is answering God. It’s listening to God. It’s asking questions of the imagery. It’s asking questions of the meaning of the phrases.
Feel the Word of God.
Notice it says that happiness will come our way when we delight in the law of the Lord. This tells me that meditation is not just an intellectual pursuit, but also involves my heart. The purpose of meditation is to take the truths that we discover in our analysis, chew on them until they drop 18 inches into our hearts so that it actually affects us.
The purpose of meditation is not so much to make the truth clear to your heart, but real to our heart. It’s tasting the goodness and the sweetness and the flavor of God’s Word for you. It’s shaping your feelings and your imagination by making it real in your heart. Meditation is the mind descending into the heart.
My Process of Meditation
Begin with 1-2 minutes of silence.
Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the message Jesus wants you to hear.
Read a selected passage aloud very slowly with long pauses. Feel the words on your tongue.
Notice a word or a phrase that seems to resonate with your heart. Stop. Say the word and hagah.
Sit with that word or phrase. Chew on it.
Finish reading the passage.
Sit in silence saying the word or phrase several times to yourself. (hagah)
Read the entire passage a second time engaging your five senses.
What do you see?
What do you smell?
What do you taste?
What do you feel?
What do you hear?
Journal or speak those images aloud.
Sit with the sights, sounds and smells of the passage for a few minutes.
Read the passage again a third time this time listening, seeing, and noticing what Jesus might be inviting you to do or say in your life for this given day. Imagine Jesus is sending you an encrypted message through the passage and you are to hear it and decode it.
Do what he tells you to do.
What if one of my grandkids habitually were so busy playing that every time they passed my chair and I offered them my lap to sit in or offered to read them a book they just kept on playing like I wasn’t even there. I offer to sit with them, but they are too busy watching T.V. or playing video games or wanting to blow bubbles. No matter what I do they are so absorbed in their only play-world that they don’t take the time to “be” with me.
If they consistently operated that way is it possible that they might grow up and complain to their parents, friends, or therapist that they never felt loved by their grandpa. Is it possible that they could grow up with that viewpoint? Of course.
You’re heavenly Father is more than willing to go for walks with you, sit with you beside a bubbling stream, whisper to you through the laughter of a child—but you have to notice. And that comes from hagah. Pondering on the Word that became flesh for you. If you do that over time, you will be changed, and you will feel adored by your Heavenly Father.
This process is not complicated, but it does require an intention to be still and know that he is God.
Just turn your face towards the Son and sit at his feet with His love letter open on your lap and see what happens.