Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Meditation of My Heart

Ranunculus blooms cheering our kitchen table
That morning I had turned to Psalm 19 in search of words to express the treasure of the Word of God, words to lift to Him in praise for that precious gift, and words to remind myself of all its benefits to me. These words I found, but verse 14 surprised me, even after untold readings.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
"Meditation." It says "meditation." Not "thoughts," but "meditation." Sometimes a passage is so familiar that I see what I expected to see instead of what is actually there. Such had apparently been the case here, so that the truth splashed me awake.

Christian meditation makes little of how empty the mind is and much of what fills it. The Hebrew words translated "meditate, meditation" convey the idea of muttering, mumbling, musing, or talking to oneself. The meditation of my heart is the mental rut worn deep by repeated travel, the pattern of thought I steep in my soul until I take on its character as my own. Meditation resembles a child kneading a piece of chewing gum with teeth and tongue until every last flavor particle is extracted. The proper objects of Christian meditation are the truth of God in Scripture (Psalm 1:2, also many places in Psalm 119), the work of God (Psalm 77:12), and the revealed character of God (Psalm 63:6).

The Spirit wielded this sword-word to slash away my habitual mask, so much a part of me that it even accompanies me to my times alone with God. It exposed the thoughts and intentions of my heart and took my breath away as I suddenly realized how much of my meditation concerned the wrong things.

When stress rises, my guard slips and old habits creep back into my thoughts without my noticing. I begin to meditate on the sorrows of loved ones, on recalcitrant tendons that won't respond to treatment as expected, on the relentless pace of medical expenses, on worries about some tricky scheduling decisions over the next two months. I meditate on how I might fix this or that situation, how I might ease this one's burden, how I might reduce tomorrow's anxieties by fretting over them today. (No, that doesn't work very well.) And then the curtain falls on the day and I realize I neglected to work on my memory verses. I had been telling myself I had been running out of time, but the truth is that my heart was too full of meditation on the wrong things.

Thanks be to God for His gentle rebuke and invitation to wear new, better ruts in my heart. All thanks to Him for His Word, for His saving work in even my life, and for His unfailing love.

Change is a slow process, but I will begin this new week with meditation on good things, on God's good gifts to me and mine. Thank You, Father:
for worshiping in community this morning,
for Your songs in my heart's ears more often this week,
for time to sit outside almost daily to listen to the birds and the breeze,
for a spur-of-the-moment drive with my parents to see my sister and her boys,
for laughter at her youngest's portrait of me later in the week,
for more chuckles at the gold star awarded to our recycling cart by the city (really),
for a successful surgery for Amore's father,
for fragrant yellow roses on my table,
for strength to do the grocery shopping myself,
for the surprise blessing of being featured on a reader's site,
and for many opportunities to depend desperately on You.
(2014 gratitude journal #746-760)


Monday, March 3, 2014

A Trustworthy Refuge {One Word 2014}

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out y’all’s heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Psalm 62:5-8, NASB with "Texan Bible" Chrome app edit

In context, David is under attack when he pens these words. As enemies surround him, (see vss 3-4), he encourages himself in God by focusing his gaze on His character. The assailants are living a lie, and under their attack he feels "Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence" (vs 3).

Although he may feel he is tottering or on the verge of collapse, he talks to himself. "My soul," he says, "wait in silence for God only." He tells himself to hush in the midst of the lies the enemies spout and to wait for God and God only. As he waits, he remembers the many ways God is the provision of his needs in this battle.

The God for whom he waits is:
  • his source of hope (5);
  • his stability (his rock, in whom he will not be shaken or "upended," NET, vs 6);
  • his salvation, his rescue, his deliverance (6);
  • his security (stronghold, 6);
  • his support (his salvation rests on God, 7);
  • his significance (glory, 7);
  • his strength (rock of my strength, 7);
  • and his shelter (my word for 2014, "refuge," 7 and 8).
In short, David finds in his God everything he needs at that moment, in that trial.

He makes the application clear in verse 8. He has been talking to himself, but now he talks to us:

Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out y’all’s heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.

He exhorts us to trust this safe, strong, stable, sure refuge at all times. He summons us to pour out our heart in "earnest prayer" (ESV Study Bible note, s.v. 8) before the Lord. He invites us to make his refuge our refuge, too.

Meditating on these words has blessed me this morning, friends, and I pray the Lord makes them a word of sustenance to some weary reader, too (Isaiah 50:4). The Lord is our hope, our stability, our salvation, our security, our support, our significance, our strength, and our refuge. Let's trust Him and pour out every sorrow and joy in our hearts to Him today.

Thanks be to God for His good gifts this past week:
His living Word,
the freedom in Christ to dump the junk drawer of my heart out before the Father without fear,
my sure refuge in Him,
those who minister to the congregation in song Sunday mornings,
the adjustment process to my new orthotics,
an interview scheduled for a loved one in need of employment,
profession of faith in Christ by my nephew Thunder,
a beautiful, warm March 1 for Mezzo's birthday,
much laughter, food, and encouragement at her tea with friends, Terza, Mom, and me,
more laughter and lots of hugs from the after-party with family only,
my whole immediate family together to celebrate,
another upper respiratory infection,
Bradford pear trees beginning to bloom out,
shelter from yesterday's ice storm and "thundersleet,"
& freedom to stay cozy at home today.
(#626-640 on 2014's 1,000 gifts count)