In the summer of 1974 my wife Lucyann and I were living in England. I was pastor of Temple Southern Baptist Church in Huntingdonshire north of London about an hour by rail. I was also studying philosophy at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University. Having taken Kathy Kite, a summer missionary working with us, to the Downtown Air Terminal in London, I was on my way back to Huntingdon on the train just before noon.
Sitting across from me was an Anglican clergyman—collar, pious look and all. He dozed the entire trip. A teenage girl sat next to him reading a Reader’s Digest and yawning. Sitting next to me was a lady about 49 or 50 reading a mimeographed syllabus on Eastern Mysticism and Karma.
I was seriously tempted to doze. I didn’t. I began to talk with the lady about what she was reading and about God. She was talkative. She said that she had found God through Yoga.
I said, “I found God through Jesus Christ.” We talked about Jesus. It was a great time to share that Jesus was the only way to God. She was not convinced. She certainly did not agree when I stated that “Jesus is the only way to God.” She expressed great admiration for Jesus, but did not believe him to be God, merely a great man and teacher. We had a great conversation. I learned a great deal and trust that I was able to share with her the truth of Jesus as God come in the flesh.
I have shared this story to emphasize an important point. In my conversation with the lady I learned the great discipline in her life—rising early, fasting, reading, memorizing, exercising, praying, diet control, meditation and many other disciplines and practices. She was disciplined!
I was ashamed that most of us who identify with Jesus and His way are so undisciplined. There are so many corrupt and harmful things in our lives. We persist in wrong living and wrong thinking. I thought then and still think today—what a sorry lot of salesmen we are.
One thing specifically that struck me was her practice of meditation. She meditated on the great writings of the world, including the Bible. She was disciplined in thinking about what these great writings teach. She invested time. I began to think about meditation in the Christian life.
There is a difference in Christian meditation. The object is all the difference—God. There are items we need to consider in regards to meditation in our lives.
First, there is the act of meditation. What is meditation?
Meditation is to shut out every other consideration, hope, fear, achievement, disappointment, all of self and to concentrate only upon God. It is to think on His mystery, His majesty, His mightiness, His beauty, His blessings, His compassion, His willingness to be our Friend, and His willingness to reveal Himself to us.
In the act of meditation we are to think about God. The Psalmist wrote, “My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord” (Psalm 104:34). In another Psalm it says, “When I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches” (Psalm 63:6).
We are to think and meditation on those things that grow out of God. Paul advised the Philippians, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think (meditate) on these things. Those things, which e have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9). We are to meditate on these things, excluding the untrue, the unjust, impure, unlovely and bad reports from our thinking.
We are to meditate on God’s Word. “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Psalm 1:2 describes the blessed man as “his delight is in the law of the Lord; in His law doth he meditate day and night.” The Psalmist cries, “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).
Meditation can be deep, heart-searching prayer. “Give ear to my word, O Lord, consider my meditation” (Psalm 5:1). Did not the Psalmist prayerfully say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
We must also think on the works of God. “I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the works of Your hands” (Psalm 143:5). “I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember the wonders of old” (Psalm 55:11, also consider verses 10-15).
Then we should meditate on our lives, our day and our walk. “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto Your testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not to keep Your commandments” (Psalm 119:59-60).
Since that conversation many years ago on a train north of London, I have practiced meditating. I can identify with the Psalmist who says unashamedly, “My meditation of Him shall be SWEET, I will be glad in the Lord.”
The experience of intimate fellowship with God is indescribable. It is a most wonderful experience. The rewards of quietness and thoughtfulness are many. “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). God has advised us, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). In closing consider what E. M. Bounds said, “God’s acquaintance is not made hurriedly. He does not bestow His gifts on the casual or hasty comer and goer. To be much alone with God is the secret of knowing Him and of influence with Him.”