Meditation seems increasingly popular in our culture. It’s often recommended as a way to decrease stress and increase happiness and productivity. The instructions given––sit in a quiet place; empty and center your mind––might make you a little uncomfortable, and rightly so.
In the Bible, meditation is not about emptying your mind but instead filling it with rich truths—truths about God and his grace, about life, you, others, and the destiny that is yours as a child of God. Meditating on these truths in turn will guide your actions, reactions, and responses in the little moments that fill each day.
This might seem impossible to you. Even in these quarantined pandemic times, our days seem to fly by, filled with all kinds of tasks. Before you know it, the day is over, and there has been little space for anything remotely close to meditation. If you’re a busy mom, work a full-time job, have loads of reading to do at your university, or face the endless responsibilities of ministry, you’re probably thinking, Where will I ever find time to meditate?
Meditation is not about emptying your mind but instead filling it with rich truths.
Psalm 1 tells us that the person who meditates on God’s Word is blessed, like a well-watered, fruitful tree. Meditation is a spiritually enriching, fruit-producing spiritual habit. Sadly, many of us have not reaped its benefits.
So, as the year turns, I want to encourage you to do something. Let Philippians 4:8 be your New Year guide. Instead of making that perennial list of resolutions––many of which will be forgotten or leave you feeling guilty––why not punctuate the turning of this year with a time of quiet meditation?
Make arrangements to spend half a day by yourself, or if you can’t do that, as much time as you can grab. Find the quietest place you can with your Bible, a journal, a good pen, and a highlighter. With a humble and open heart, and with God’s Word as your guide, look forward and look back.
You may be thinking, Paul, I’m not sure I know how to do this. Let me give you five words to guide your “as the year turns” meditation:
- Count. It’s tempting to look back and think of all the unfulfilled promises, broken dreams, and missed opportunities in 2020. Instead of numbering your complaints, get out your journal and count your blessings. You will find that there are many, many blessings in the unnoticed cracks and crevasses of your life.
- Confess. Since you and I are far from perfect, there are always things to confess. As the year turns, open your heart to the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. Conviction and confession are not things to be afraid of, but are God’s means of drawing us close, keeping us near, and protecting our wandering hearts. Ensure your confessions are specific, and remember that the person and work of Jesus have already covered everything you confess.
- Consider. Since you have the comfort, commands, and wisdom principles of Scripture, and since you have God Almighty living within you in the person of the Holy Spirit, change really is possible. Take time to write down specific places in your heart, life, work, and relationships where change is needed. Don’t be discouraged as you admit your need for growth; it’s your Lord who decided that change would be an ongoing process in our lives and not a dramatic, one-time event.
- Celebrate. Write down all the tremendous benefits that are yours simply because, by grace, you have become a child of God. Take time to celebrate the fullness of your identity in Christ. Return to Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians and rehearse all that is yours because God adopted you into his family.
- Commit. Now commit yourself to a plan of action. What new habits do you need to insert into your daily routine? Which relationships require repair? What new commitments do you need to make with your time, energy, and money? In what ways do you need to take your relationship with your Father more seriously? What do you need to do to rest more in God’s presence, promises, power, and grace? Begin your new year by turning your meditation into action.
The Bible reminds us again and again that our thoughts precede and determine our activity. Your actions always go where your heart has already gone. So, plant 2021 in the rich, nutritious soil of meditation so that in the months to come, you can reap the joy of a harvest of good fruit.
There’s no better time to meditate than as the year turns!