When I was a kid, I thought meditation was boring. I never really tried it but, what western kid has the patience to sit still and find their center? As I grew up, I respected people who would take the time to meditate, but I never really understood how they could do it. It was my understanding that meditation was about clearing one’s mind to the point of not thinking about anything and just sit there, existing. I would have no idea how to quiet all my thoughts, and all the negative voices within, to achieve such a state. When I became a Christian, I didn’t understand how meditation could fit into a believer’s life, because it requires you to find your center and become more aware of yourself in your environment. It all seemed too self-centered to be Christ-like. I am supposed to be focusing on God, giving God all the glory, and constantly look for the will of the Father in every circumstance. This is the way I have always grown deeper into my relationship with Jesus. And that is the point, right? The dance between humanity and God, getting close to one another as we struggle to just let Him lead. Jesus came to restore the relationship between humanity and the Godhead because the enemy came between us and created separation.
The enemy’s main goal is to separate humanity from God and he has a strategy. Distraction, Division, and Devastation are the tools he uses for keeping God’s children apart from their loving Father. This has not changed much throughout the ages, though some of the items that distract us and the issues that divide have evolved. In my experience Satan’s strategy is not progressive, it is an all-out onslaught. Death and decay are always stalking us and more often than we like, directly engaging us. There seems to always be something in the air for us to take offence over or some cause demanding we pick a side. And there is always a new thing, a new device or piece of technology, sometimes its an older one that we can’t seem to pull ourselves away from. Sometimes it’s a task, or a chore, another batch of laundry that needs to be folded, another dish to wash, there is always something that we can be distracted by. If we are not careful, and intentional, we can go from one distraction to the next only to take brakes long enough to get offended by something on Facebook or in the news until we get so angry that we must distract ourselves from the issue that is creating the extra division. Round and round, we go until the death of a friend of family member punches you in the face and leaves you wondering, “where is God?” Therefore, the spiritual disciplines are paramount to our walk because by engaging in them we put on the armor of God and the Fruit of the Spirit blossoms in our life.
Meditation is an indispensable tool we must use in the fight against the spiritual attacks we feel but cannot see. I like to start either in silence or by listening to the words of Jesus being read aloud. Something in the red letters, John 15 is a personal favorite. I will sometimes sit in a comfortable chair, but most often I like to lie flat on my back to allow my spine to stretch out as I have back issues. I rest in the silence or in the sound of His words being read and concentrate on my hands and my feet being aware of every detail of what they are feeling. I take intentional breaths and listen to my lungs fill up and deflate. I try to expand my awareness from my hands, feet, and breath, to the rest of my body. As I do this I begin to become more aware of myself, my surroundings, and God’s presence in it all. This may be a stretch for some of you, but I want to remind you that the Holy Spirit is God and the Holy Spirit is in you. Just as the Tabernacle could not hold God under its roof neither can our bodies house the fullness that is God. Therefore, when we focus inward, intent on getting closer to God, we will not be able to avoid becoming aware of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and be affected by the peace of God’s presence. Overcome by the peace of God’s presence I expand my awareness to the objects in the room with me. A couch, a bed, a chair, the walls all around me, and as I do I feel God’s presence in the room with me and I become aware of the peace of God in this place. It’s a peace that has always been there, but I have been too distracted to be aware of its closeness to me. From there, I can get up off the floor, leave the room and still be aware of God’s peace and presence with me.
As we close out our series on the Spiritual Disciplines I can’t help but think about how much I have failed to take the time to pursue them throughout my journey in the faith. Not in a self-judgmental way as I may sometimes do, but more in the way that I am amazed at how much my life and walk has benefited from the little bit of effort I have made. What might my life and my mental health look like if I were to have done more? I won’t stay with that question for long, nor will I think about what the future might look like if I continue to fail as I have. Instead, I will thank God for being faithful to me throughout it all. I will be grateful for God accepting the little time I give Him and blessing me with so much more than I deserve. I won’t dwell on the what ifs, instead, I will take this time to decipher what spiritual discipline I can engage in, at this moment, right now, and if I can stay in this present thought, I can be effective for the kingdom of God.