It’s time to get into the Disciplines! Here’s how I plan to approach each one:
Week 1 – Read and summarize the chapter, discuss what jumped out to us as interesting, what challenged us, what caused us to pause and consider.
Week 2 – Engage in the discipline! We’ll share ideas about how we can practice the discipline, what some of the challenges might be, and how we can try to overcome them.
Week 3 – Reflect on our practice. How’d it go? What did we try? What blessed us? Where did we struggle?
Week 4 – For further exploration. Here we’ll explore other resources and ideas related to the Discipline we’ve practiced that month.
That’s the plan at least. Some months and Disciplines might end up being a bit different, but that’s the rough draft. This month we’ll only be doing 3 weeks on meditation since we looked at the introduction last week.
Let’s do it!
Foster does such a good job of helping us to understand why we should bother with these Disciplines, and he makes them seem so darn attractive. He tells us how we can expect to be changed by their practice, shows us Biblical examples, then gives practical tips on how to enter in. The chapter opens by saying
In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and “manyness,” he will rest satisfied. Psychiatrist Carl Jung once remarked, “Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil.”
If we hope to move beyond the superficialities of our culture, including our religious culture, we must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation. (15)
Doesn’t that resonate? Noise, hurry, crowds? Muchness and manyness? I know that I am bombarded by these, and the idea of “recreating silences” is so attractive. Meditation allows us to enter into these recreating silences, helps to protect us from the rushing forces around us that can distract us and scatter us, and enables us to engage in the world as Christ’s followers.
Within scripture, there are many references to meditation, including
-listening to God’s word
- reflecting on God’s works
- rehearsing God’s deeds
- ruminating on God’s laws (15)
These are the types of things we do as we engage in meditation. And when we do? We hear, see, and understand God in new ways. As we do this, we become new – our attitudes and actions are changed by our awareness of who God is and who God wants us to be. As Foster says, we hear, and obey.
Foster lists various Biblical figures who engaged in meditation – the Psalmist, Eli, Samuel, and Jesus, among others. He states that
God spoke to them not because they had special abilities, but because they were willing to listen.
Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word. (16, 17, emphasis mine)
The incredible reality is that “the great God of the universe, the Creator of all things desires our fellowship” (17). If we have the desire, and therefore take the time to try to listen, God longs to reveal himself. Like those in the Bible, we too can walk with and hear from God. Foster says
…the wonderful new is that Jesus has not stopped acting and speaking. He is resurrected and at work in our world. He is not idle, nor has he developed laryngitis. He is alive and among us as our Priest to forgive us, our Prophet to teach us, our King to rule us, our Shepherd to guide us. (18-19)
Foster explains that unlike the approach of Eastern religions, which are seeking to empty the mind by meditation, as Christians we are seeking to fill the mind. We detach “from the confusion all around us in order to have a richer attachment to God” (21). Meditation of this kind is “the one thing that can sufficiently redirect our lives so that we can deal with human life successfully,” it ” sends us into our ordinary world with greater perspective and balance” (22).
Foster goes into some practical application stuff, but I think I’ll hold that for next week when we consider how we will try to engage in this Discipline. I find meditation particularly attractive; I am someone who has always cherished silence and contemplation, and find myself longing for it more than ever in my role as parent. I certainly need the perspective and balance Foster speaks of, and can vouch that I have certainly found that in the ways I have already experimented with this Discipline I have benefited! The fact that God longs to be in conversation with us is mind-blowing to me…how could I not stop to listen!?
So what do you think? Have you read the chapter? Did anything stick out to you? Anything from what I mentioned? Does the idea of stillness and silence sound attractive to you, or give you the heebie-jeebies? I’d love to have you join the conversation!
Other posts in this series:
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