46. Meditating on Scripture pt. 1

             Are you bored with the Bible?  Do you think, when you read a passage, or hear it read, “I’ve heard this a million times.  I already know that – same old same old.”?  So, either you stop reading, or you read/listen dutifully, as a good Christian is supposed to do, but your mind and your heart aren’t much engaged.  It’s sort of like reviewing the multiplication tables.

            I get that.  I was once at that place, and still am sometimes.   But, over the years, my fascination with Scripture has grown.  I’m like an adventurer wanting to explore as many biblical gardens, mountain tops and canyons as time will permit.

            What’s made the change for me?  There are multiple reasons.  The main one is that I’ve grown to love the Lord more deeply over time.  Another reason is that I’ve gained skill in applying Scripture practically in day to day life; making it more useful and relevant.  The reason I want to discuss today, though, is this:  I’ve grown more fascinated with Scripture because I’ve gotten better at meditating on it.  Meditation, for me, has opened the door to Scripture’s treasure-house.

            What do I mean by “meditation”?  For many of us, that word conjures up a person sitting in the lotus position with their eyes closes and their hands resting on their legs, trying to relax and quiet their minds.  This is not the sort of meditation I’m discussing today. I’m referring to the approach to meditation mentioned in Psalm 1:2, which speaks of a godly person, and says:  “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”  This kind of meditation means that we take time to deliberately examine and experience a passage of Scripture rather than simply rushing by it with a bare acknowledgement of its basic facts.  Think of the way an art lover studies a gorgeous painting or a diner slowly savors each bite of a delicious meal rather than just wolfing it down.  There’s an enormous difference between these alternate approaches.  This leads to our first question:

            Why is meditation on Scripture such a spiritual advantage?

1.     Meditation helps me to focus more intently on the passage

You and I live in a world of hyper-stimulation.  We’re constantly bombarded by distractions – iPhones chirping, TV’s blaring, someone needing something, future worries whispering, and busyness that just won’t let up.  Our minds zip back and forth like an eight lane highway at rush hour.  Unfortunately, this seems normal to a lot of us.  It’s just life. Try getting much out of the Bible under these circumstances is like trying to enjoy a beautiful flower garden while driving by at 70 mph with the windows rolled up and the radio blaring.  Meditation, on the other hand, is like parking the car, getting out of it, and taking a slow walk through the garden, stopping to study individual plants; to smell the aroma and see the play of sun on their surfaces. Why is this important?  This leads to our next point.

2.    Meditation allows to us bring to see details and nuances we often miss in a passage

Some time back, I was meditating on 1 Peter 3:11,12, when this phrase popped out at me:  “. . . You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”  “Speed its coming?”  We can speed the Lord’s coming – make Him come sooner if we live holy lives?  I won’t try to answer that question now, but it’s a fascinating one, and, although I’d read it before, I’d never slowed down enough to really notice it.  The Bible is packed stuff like this and meditation causes us to discover all sorts of fascinating facts and raises questions which speed reading usually doesn’t notice.  This leads to the next advantage of meditation:

3.    Meditation makes old truths fresh truths

It’s easier for a new believer to encounter Bible truths as fresh because they’re mostly new to him – the novelty factor boosts freshness.  But after you’ve read the Bible for a while, the novelty factor diminishes. You know all the major stories and themes.  You’ve heard the key verses scores, if not hundreds of times.  Meditation makes these “old” truths fresh, because it takes us deeper into them. Below the surface understanding of, say, Christ’s death and resurrection, there’s so much to explore – why did Christ have to die?  Did it have to be such a painful death – why couldn’t he have died in childbirth?  Where did He go for those three days?  Why does he cry out that God has “forsaken him”?  What does that mean?

4.    Meditation keeps biblical truths in my conscious mind longer

Remember the “he meditates day and night” I quoted a moment ago?  When we meditate on a passage it tends to linger longer in our conscious mind.  This means that it will be more likely to follow us throughout the day, encouraging, guiding and influencing us not just at 7:15, when we read it, but at noon or 3:30.   

5.    Meditation keeps biblical truths moving in my subsconcious mind as well

Did you know that our subconscious mind exercises enormous influence on how we think and act?  Most of our instinctual responses and attitudes spring from deep caverns inside of us, some of which we’re not even aware.  This is what the Bible calls, “the heart”.  Meditation, like a long slow rain, allows Scripture to soak in and trickle down into these places.  Our deepest motivations, perspectives, and attitudes are gradually transformed by the Spirit when they come in extended contact with God’s Word.

6.    Meditation allows Scripture to have a deeper emotional impact

The Bible isn’t meant to be just a pile of facts that we encounter rationally.  It’s supposed to touch the whole person – and that includes our emotions.  It’s intended to bring joy, hope, love, peace, and, where appropriate, guilt, sadness or indignation.  Our emotions add so much to our spiritual experience.  Without slowing down and meditating, the emotional impact of Scripture tends to be minimal.  It’s hard to feel these tremendous truths when we’re in a hurry. This sets up the next reason:

7.    Meditation leads me to worship

As we encounter Scripture at a deeper level, both intellectually and emotionally, through meditation, we discover what an extraordinary, magnificent God we serve.  He’s not just a bigger version of us.  He’s amazing beyond amazing. As Paul says, in Romans 11:  “How unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out.” 

8.    Meditation gives me more to share with others

One of my favorite aspects of meditation is that it gives me something new to pass on.  I don’t want to just repeat old, threadbare cliché’s about the Christian life.  I love having something fresh and new to offer to others that will encourage them or get them thinking.  And my enthusiasm about these delicious new insights may prompt them to meditate also.

            Meditation makes Scripture come alive.  Next time I’ll offer some suggestions about how to meditate.  Stay tuned.