Meditation is an often-neglected aspect of Christianity but in the introduction to the longest book in the Bible, the Psalmist tells us that this practice is a vital part of what true “blessedness” looks like. Psalm 1 begins, “Blessed is the man…[whose] delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (vv. 1-2).
Now, there may be many reasons why we pull back at this word but let me state two. First, often folks associate mediation with eastern, non-Christian religions. So, in an effort not to accidentally do what is un-Christian, we end up intentionally failing to do what is a good Christian practice.
A second hesitation I often come across is far more practical. Many simply tell me, “Matt, I just don’t know how to meditate on God’s word. I don’t even know what that means. I wouldn’t know how to begin.” However, I’m confident—whether you know it or not—you do know how to meditate on God’s word. And I can say that with certainty because I’m sure you know how to hold a grudge.
Holding Holy Grudges
Think about it. What are you doing when you’re holding a grudge? You’re constantly throwing yourself back into whatever the instance was that offended you. All your spare, quiet moments are consumed with bitterness that eventually turns to rage and hatred because you’re constantly thinking about the offense.
Whether you’re mowing the lawn or doing the dishes, you’re imagining the person that upset you and what you’d say to them now if you had the chance. You probably win every argument you have about it in the shower. You spend so much time thinking about the instance you’re able to pull out every little detail of the offense, or the offender, that you can remember the whole interaction with vivid clarity.
This is what we ought to be doing with God’s word.
Biblical meditation is filling your mind and heart with God’s word. It’s swishing it around and around again in your head until the wakes of His word splash down into the depths of your heart. It’s like thoroughly chewing a piece of meat before you swallow it so that you know you’ve got all the rich flavor out of it.
Biblical meditation is filling your mind and heart with God’s word. It’s swishing it around and around again in your head until the wakes of His word splash down into the depths of your heart.Tweet
And when you do this, one of the most interesting things you’ll find is that your deepest and most meaningful insights about Scripture don’t come from reading it once or spending a passing moment with the verse of the day. No, your deep insights and revelations come from spending minutes, that turn into hours, that turn into days, that turn into weeks. It’s once the truth of Scripture has been so branded on your heart that you finally begin to draw out the deep meanings of the text.
Let’s Get Practical
This is why, very practically speaking, I encourage folks to memorize chunks of Scripture. Because the hours, days, and maybe even weeks and years it takes to commit passages to memory will have an eternal impact on your life with God.
If this concept of meditation is new to you—or maybe if it sounds daunting—then start small. Begin with a passage you’re familiar with already. Consider Psalm 23. It’s well known and has only six verses. So, starting today, resolve yourself to commit those six verses to memory, and I guarantee you that in the time it takes you to tattoo them upon your heart, God will give you insights you’ve not seen before. Insights no pastor, sermon, or article can teach to you. And that’s because, as Paul writes, God’s word is at work in believers (1 Thess. 2:13). As you make a habit of day and night meditating on God’s word and his character, you’ll find that he does things to you by his Spirit.
What About the Winter?
And that’s what the Psalmist goes on to say in Psalm 1. He writes, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (v.3).
It’s Spring right now, so that means the fruit trees in my yard have blossomed, and I’m starting to see little apples, plums, and peaches growing on their branches. Right now, there are fresh leaves everywhere, and just a month ago there were flowers all over, but just two months ago all my trees looked like nothing more than planted sticks. They were bare. In the cold of winter, from all appearances, they seemed like they were dead. But they weren’t dead. They were drawing up water from the ground, storing it, and preparing for the season ahead so that in their season they would yield fruit.
And that’s us! We’re not always in fruiting seasons. So, Christian, don’t define God’s work and blessing in your life by the presence of apparently visible fruit. Biblically speaking, blessing isn’t defined by fruitfulness, it’s defined by faithfulness. My trees faithfully drew up water from the ground all winter long, so that in their season they would be ready to produce fruit. The water was at work in them all winter even when you couldn’t tell from the outside.
Can you say the same of yourself?
This may feel like a fruitless season for you. You may feel like a planted stick. You may feel like there are no signs of life right now. You know you’re unable to leave, but you’re also unable to leaf. At this moment, are you cultivating habits of faithfulness? Are you drawing up the water of God’s word, and letting it work in you so that in your season you’ll be ready to produce fruit?
Blessing isn’t defined by fruitfulness, it’s defined by faithfulness.Tweet
The Prophet Jeremiah uses this same illustration in Jeremiah 17, but when he does it, he contrasts a person whose trust is in their strength against someone whose “trust is the LORD” (v.7). Friends, what you prioritize, and what you take in during the wintery seasons of life show you where your real trust is. These seasons prove where your true allegiance lies. So, if this is a wintery season for you, what are you taking in? What are you relying on? Is it God and his word or is it your own strength and ability?
Because it may be winter for you now, but Spring is coming. And hear this: godly fruit is only going to be produced by a tree that is drawing up the water it needs to survive during the winter. Or, as Jeremiah puts it, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD” (Jer. 17:7).
The good news is that because of the finished work of Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in believers, we have access to the water our souls pant after. Nothing is stopping you, so send your roots out toward his stream of living water in all seasons, that you may yield your fruit your season.
Photo Credit: @eckfarms