Have you ever followed the promptings of your GPS and wished you had a life app just like it—a soothing voice telling you which way to go when you face difficult decisions? “Siri, should I marry this person or shouldn’t I? Should I buy this house or that house? Crotchety old Aunt Jane is in town and expects to stay at my home. Should I tell her the kids are sick (they aren’t) or shouldn’t I?” How can we upgrade and find a little more specific wisdom and direction?
We live in a distracted culture. Cars come with touch screens on the console; elliptical machines at the gym sport phone docking stations; and doctors’ waiting rooms are filled with screaming children, ringing phones, and the day’s celebrity gossip assaulting us from a flat-screen TV. Multitasking is our new moral imperative. In this hubbub we can ask Siri for driving directions, but have we forgotten the greatest questions of all: Who are we and why are we here?
In a world drowning in information, wisdom can be hard to find. We read books, blogs, and articles. We call Mom. We Google it. We read the Bible, but the Bible doesn’t tell us whether to homeschool or send the kids to public school. We envy women like Corrie ten Boom or Ann Voskamp who seem so confident in their decisions and so capable in life. If only there were an app for that.
The Answer for Distraction
In a distracted culture where breadth is everything and depth is lost, meditation is the application that gives us the breathing room and the proper focus to gain both wisdom and peace. “You will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
The Hebrew word for meditation in the New International Version of Psalm 19:14—“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord”—carries the idea of resounding music or musings. God views our fixed attention on Himself and His Word as a beautiful act of worship.
Meditation involves two actions: (1) emptying yourself of the noise and distraction of the world and (2) filling yourself with the person and Word of God. This is unlike the Eastern concept of meditation, which aims mostly at emptying oneself of oneself in order to achieve oneness with the universe. Instead, Christian meditation actually makes us more fully alive, complete, and truly us as we contemplate God as He truly is. A Christian’s identity is a mysterious combination of unique personality and the overarching image of God. So we are brought more into our own right minds as we gain the mind of Christ.
Meditation and Prayer
Meditation is sister to prayer because both seek a divine encounter. But where prayer is dialogue with God, meditation is contemplating God. It will take some time to empty ourselves of the chaos and to come quietly into the presence of the Almighty. In our busy lives, it might feel hard to conjure up empty minutes and hours. For those who can’t open an entire afternoon, a practical discipline for meditation might be to reserve a twenty-minute commute for time to ponder God. Or instead of thumbing through magazines at the dentist’s office or refreshing our Facebook feed while waiting for the kids’ soccer practice to end, we could spend those few minutes in devoted attention to a quality of God or a promise in His Word.
Meditation focuses its lens on God and then follows His gaze and listens to His instructions about the most common things of life. Meditation is contemplation that leads to revelation, which in turn leads to wise application. It starts with a disciplined separation from the world only to return to the world filled with obedience toward God’s love and His vision for the people and things that surround us. As Richard Foster says in Celebration of Discipline, “Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey His word.”
The next time you need wisdom, open the app of meditation.