MEDITATION: THE ESSENTIAL ACT OF LOVING GOD
Throughout this month, I have focused on meditation as the essential activity of the righteous, as indicated throughout the Psalms and established particularly in Psalm 1. Viewed through the lens of the Psalms, meditation, as practiced historically in Judaism and Christianity, is the practice of dialoguing with God about His Word and His character and with our own heart about the same. Further, the book of Psalms is the record of private meditations become public worship. In my previous blogs in this series, I asserted that meditation is the essential joy of the righteous and the essential act of worship of God. In this final blog, I propose that meditation is the essential act of loving God.
Meditate is how we hold God greatest and dearest in our hearts and is the essential act of love of God. What does it mean to hold someone great and dear (as opposed to great in fear) in our heart? Of all people who walk this planet, my wife is greatest and dearest to me. She is most present in my thoughts; as I make decisions throughout my day, her presence in my thoughts – my heart – governs my decisions. Her presence also governs how I interact with others, particularly with other women, including what I say and don’t say to them. I often catch myself imagining a dialogue with her in my mind, and, when she writes encouraging notes and cards to me, I treasure her words to me and “hide” them away for safekeeping, though reflecting upon them often. Her sweet words to me bring me joy and delight. Her presence in my heart, as greatest and dearest of all people (excluding God) to me, means that she has the greatest influence on my thoughts, my emotions, my speech, my decisions, and my actions. Her presence in my heart is exceptionally “large”. Further, over time, I have come to see myself through her eyes; I am becoming – albeit, slowly – the man that she sees and loves. This is mature love. (The astute reader will note some parallel here with Object Relations theory.)
The act of meditation – dialoguing with God about His Word and His character and with our own heart about the same – is the essential act of loving God. In Psalm 1:2, the psalmist asserts that the righteous meditate on God’s Word “day and night”. Meditation is the essential activity of the righteous, and, in it, we come to hold greatest and dearest in our heart. In the continual practice of meditation, we have an ongoing dialogue with God in our hearts. We treasure (love) His Word to us, “hiding” it in our hearts and, in doing so, granting God influence in our decisions and behavior. The psalmist writes, “I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Ps. 119:11). In meditation, the thought of God produces the emotional response of joy in us. More, God exerts the greatest influence in our thoughts, emotions, speech, decisions, and actions through our continual meditation upon Him. The psalmist prays, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.” (Ps. 19:14) Over time, sustained meditation affords us a vision of ourselves in God’s eyes, and we slowly become the “me that You see.” This is mature love, and meditation is the essential act of loving God – of holding Him greatest and dearest in our hearts.
The reality is that we will meditate upon something; our minds will focus on something or someone. Our personhood will more and more reflect whatever or whoever is the greatest focus (meditation) of our heart. A worrisome meditation on money will produce within fear and anxiety; our security and value will become dictated by our financial status. Our bank accounts will become the rule for our decisions and our behavior. Further, in our character, we may begin to reflect avarice. This is what happens when money is our meditation.
As believers, let us aim to make God, in all His richness, our primary meditative focus. Let us hold Him greatest and dearest in our hearts – to love him with all our heart.