Saturday, February 18, 2012
The Discipline of Meditation
"In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in "muchness" and "manyness," he will rest satisfied. If we hope to move beyond the superficialities of our culture, including our religious culture, we must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation. Though it may sound strange to modern ears, we should without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer".
As I shared with you before, I'm reading and studying Richard Foster's "Celebration of Discipline" during the next twelve weeks taking one discipline and focusing on it for the week. This week I spent an entire hour each morning in complete silence. Me... can you believe it? Ha. The girl who can hardly sit still unless she's sleeping or eating. Well... I practiced letting go of everything, asking the Lord to come and empty me of myself, my thoughts, fears, concerns, etc. I wanted to be completely empty in every way so that I could just sit in His presence and BE. It was pretty difficult at first cuz I'm a gal who likes efficiency, i find satisfactory in killing multiple birds with one stone. Haha. I like to get the MOST out of every single hour of the day, sucking life dry. So the thought of sitting and doing nothing for an hour made me a little nervous to be honest... until I realized that by doing nothing I was doing everything.
On Monday I sat... quietly. "What next?", I thought. I asked the Lord to protect my mind from the enemy's thoughts and my own so that I would ONLY hear His voice. I began to request that He'd reveal things to me or that I'd have a major epiphany I could share with the masses. Then gently but sternly I felt as thought the Lord said..."Who are you doing this for Lindsey?". Wow, my Papa really knows how to set me straight :) Suddenly I realized my motives had been off and He was beautifully drawing me back to the core of my existence. In this moment I could ask for nothing more than to honor Him with my silence, obedience and faithfulness... what He wanted to say or not say was His business. I would worship Him regardless because He is worthy of our praise... end of story. But what came of this precious time with Him was way more than I could have ever expected or anticipated.
Excerpt from my meditation journal: "Sometimes an intentional 'nothing' is the stillness in which something unseen and beautiful is being birthed to life."
I could spend this time going deeper into Foster's biblical research of Meditation, or the personal interpretation of thousands of scholars over the years... but more than our "evidence", this has to be a journey you desire to take for yourself. Yes, there is great value and treasure to be found in spending devoted time at the feet of our Savior... but YOUR eyes must become open to this truth. And I hope for your sake, your families sake, the people you do or could influence, and for the sake of the kingdom of heaven that you at least search for yourself.
"Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God's voice and obey his word...the truth of the matter is that the GREAT GOD of the universe, the Creator of all things, desires our fellowship." Foster
Sometimes it's quite mind-boggling to me that we could just quietly sit alone with an invisible God... and it blesses His heart? Wow! I mean, how many of us have ever had those awkward silent moments with someone we liked, respected, loved or were in awe of? Can you imagine what we'd say if our favorite singer, actor, or historical figure were to spend time with us? We'd probably announce it to the facebook world, tweet about it a few hundred times and try to decide what in the world we wanted to say to them so we wouldn't look foolish. But this is the CREATOR of ALL... and He's telling us we don't have to or need to do anything but sit in His presence and receive with an open heart, mind and soul.
In those moments with Him I wasn't necessarily being taught how to become a good child of the King.... but I was receiving His love in such a way that I was becoming that beloved daughter who takes delight and ultimate pleasure from spending time with her Dad. BE LOVED. It's simple. We are human beings not human doings. I guarantee that your time outside of this intentionally focused time will be even more productive than ever before so that even the mundane will become a beautiful worship to him as you begin to see how you fit into the bigger picture of it all as a child of God. Peace, balance, and grace become the elements that allow you to breath in deep the life you were created for. (This is called Otium Sanctum or "holy leisure" referring to a sense of balance in the life, an ability to be at peace through the activities of the day, an ability to rest and take time to enjoy beauty, an ability to pace ourselves).
"The detachment from the confusion all around us is in order to have a richer attachment to God. Christian meditation leads us to the inner wholeness necessary to give ourselves to God freely". Foster
As I read further into Foster's perspective and searched for myself in my own time in stillness, I began to wonder why meditation seems so threatening to us. Foster believes it's because, "it boldly calls us to enter into the living presence of God for ourselves." I know that years ago I used to avoid being alone at all costs because I knew I'd have to think about the way I live my life and honestly my flesh did not want to change... after all, it was fully satisfied. But my spirit was becoming weary of calling out for something more... doing all it could to shout above the madness I had become so comfortable in. The truth is... I was afraid. I was fearful that I wouldn't hear God's voice if "i tried", and even more worried of what the Lord might say if He did decide to speak to me.
What I didn't realize at the time was how madly the Savior loved me, how deeply He desired to connect with me, and how much He deserved ALL of me. He wanted me to believe and know that He really IS everything He says He is... He wanted to satisfy me like nothing else in this whole world could. He wanted to fill me up with true life so that I could walk out the rest of my days searching His great mysteries, digging deeper into His love, and becoming fully aware of His heart for this broken world.
And I hope when I say this you accept the complete authenticity of it... yes, the world has lots of tasty treats to offer that "feel good" and bring some sort of temporary comfort or ease, but there is nothing...NOTHING...that compares to even a moment with our Papa. Just us and Him. No preacher, speaker, author, radio station, relative, actor, musician, or lover can replace this time He desires to spend with us alone. Knowledge and understanding is good... but He wants our undivided attention so He can properly penetrate our hearts and leave us hungry for more as we posture ourselves before Him.
"The body, mind, and the spirit are inseparable. Tension in the spirit is telegraphed in body language. I actually have witnessed people go through an entire worship service vigorously chewing gum without the slightest awareness of their deep inner tension. Not only does outward posture reflect the inward state, it can also help to nurture the inner attitude of prayer. If inwardly we are fraught with distractions and anxiety, a consciously chosen posture of peace and relaxation will have a tendency to calm our inner turmoil." Foster
I do believe that we experience anxiety, fear, and turmoil because we are not deeply connecting with the source of that true peace. It's almost as if our soul and body are trying to tell us something. Unfortunately, we live in a world that quickly slaps a name on our uneasy feelings and hands over some numbing medication or a suggests we take a vacation from our problems :( I'm trying not to generalize here... but might I suggest we try meditating in His presence first instead of medicating???
The deeper my conscience has been going into the heart of God as I tap into this heavenly realm... the more aware I become of the perverse desires of my flesh. You would think this would bring guilt, depression, and sadness upon my soul.... but oh the contrary! I now find joy in the divine discovery of anything within me that might hinder seeing or knowing the great love of God so that I might throw these things off and receive even more of His goodness! As I draw near Him over time I begin to see myself how He sees me and that, in turn, becomes how I truly desire to live! There is freedom, healing, restoration, redemption, and glory found in His arms... why would we want to be anywhere else?
Richard Foster lists four different types of meditation that I'll share with you as a guide to get you going. I pray that you will plunge into the inner depths with HIM beloved.
1- Meditation upon scripture: Foster suggests we set aside all tendencies toward arrogance and with a humble heart receive the word addressed to us. Accept the scripture and ponder it in your heart, even if it's one chapter a week...enter the story, not as a passive observer, but as an active participant. Also remember that Christ is truly with us to teach, heal, and forgive.
2- Re-collection: It is a time to become still, to enter into the recreating silence, to allow the fragmentation of our minds to become centered. It might be good to start off by surrendering, releasing and letting go (palms down), then move on to a position to receive (palms up) not asking for anything... allow the Lord to commune with you.
3- Meditation upon creation: Foster strongly states that this is NOT infantile pantheism, but a majestic monotheism in which the great Creator of the universe shows us something of his glory through his creation. Personally I greatly enjoy my moments with God in nature and feel more alive there than any concrete building I've ever set foot in. Even the birds are singing praises.
4- Meditation upon the events of our time: This time is good to seek and perceive the significance about what is going on in our world and find our spiritual obligation to penetrate the inner meaning of these events, not to gain power but to gain prophetic perspective.
Overall, this week has been a huge eye opener for me in the world of meditation and our ability to connect with the Father in this simple way. I recognize the biblical value as well as the core desire to just be where God is. He is speaking every moment of every day, but how often do we become still enough to hear His voice? I desire to now apply some form of meditation into my daily life... not seeing it as another thing to put on my "to do" list, but instead acknowledging that absolutely nothing can replace that time with Him or satisfy my being like He can in His presence alone. He is the purification process in which our oxygen flows through that determines the quality of air we release the rest of the day to the world.
One of the most significant things about Peter, I believe, was His name. Side note: I encourage you to research the meaning of your name if you don't already know. What does God call you and why? What does He say that He believes about you... and do you live accordingly? Recognizing this could be a significant step in discovering your identity in HIM.
At first Peter's name was Simon which means, "to hear or be heard". And at one point when called by Jesus, he called him Peter which means, "rock". Now, there is much debate to what He meant by changing His name and what Jesus meant when He said, "On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail it..." Some say Jesus was referring to himself, others say to Peter's faith. I say probably both. I believe Jesus was prophetically speaking life into Peter and in turn Peter was beginning to see His identity in Him. At this time Jesus was still on earth, but He would soon be gone physically. Although we would lose His body, we would forever have the ability to house the spirit of Christ within us. So, in a way... He has built His church through us on HIM, the solid rock. Peter definitely had his place in the early stages of the growth of the church and went to great lengths spreading the authentic gospel of Christ before He became a martyr in the end and was crucified upside down because He didn't think He was worthy enough to die the same as His Savior.
Although, If Peter had a biblical resume it probably wouldn't have gotten him very far in the church today. It might have said something like this: spokesperson for Jesus, missionary, served some prison time, cut off a soldier's ear, denied Christ 3 times, refused foot washing by Jesus until He called him out on it, and walked on water until he became afraid and took His eyes of Jesus. Sadly, I don't know many churches that would hire Peter to clean their toilets...(I just want to quickly point out the irony in this picture. I took this when I was visiting Israel a few years ago. Here, we are in Capernaum beside the Sea of Galilee at the home of this "beautiful" modern-day church. But what you don't see is that it is actually built upon rock... also known historically as the house in which Peter used to live in. Somehow we've built an actual church building where the real church began and was designed to remain... long after it's founder was gone.)
This man's life has taught me a few things this week. 1- I think we have strayed far from the church Jesus designed to be built upon the rock. 2- Peter may have initially refused Jesus to clean his feet, but when He told Him that if He doesn't then He would have no part with Him... Peter quickly asks Jesus to wash his hands and head as well. 3- He may have taken his eyes off Jesus for a moment and sunk into the sea, but honestly... He was the ONLY one on the boat that even believed it was possible and gave it a shot. 4- Sure, he may have done some stupid things... but this man loved the Lord with everything He had, even to the point of death.
What really is the point of arriving safely at death? Do we wish to please the Father while we are on earth or are we all just waiting for our time to come so He can please us in heaven? How can we call ourselves successful if we keep doing the same things we already know how to do? Failure is when we stop seeking or stop wanting more. Man, He desires SO MUCH for you in this life. I challenge you (and myself) this week to DIG deeper into the heart of God by spending time sitting in His presence and finding contentment by being His beloved child. Will you humbly let Jesus wash your feet? Will YOU be a water walker? Even if it means you may fall a time or two... or three? Every single human being is so blessed to be a witness of the King, to have the very fingerprint of the God of the universe on our souls... no matter who you are, where you come from, or what you have done- HE LOVES YOU.
Training for half-marathon
One of the most valuable lessons I've learned this week is "PACE YOURSELF". And the funny thing is a few weeks ago a good friend told me that God is setting the pace for me and make sure I run with Him to that pace or I will wear out. Associating the physical with the spiritual is becoming a common theme in my relationship with God. Haha. Anyway... I ended up running for 3 miles, 3 days straight... did yoga yesterday... and Cardio core work today. Tomorrow I've decided to let my body REST and believe you me I am going to enjoy every second of it :)