It’s not enough to simply read the Bible.
Jesus made an audacious promise at the end of His sermon on the mount: “Everyone who hears these words of Mine, and puts them into practice is like a wise man who builds his house on the rock.” (Matt. 7:24 NIV)
Here is the problem. It’s easy to hear the words of God; the challenge is putting them into practice. In between the hearing and the doing I hit a wall. It’s easy to hear about loving your enemies or serving your wife or holding your tongue or sharing your stuff. The challenge is the real world of traffic and trials and jerks.
So how do we put God’s words into practice? Meditation.
Your life will follow your meditation.
Look at what God told Joshua: “This Book of the Law must not depart from your mouth, but you are to meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. Then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
The key to turning hearing these words into practicing these words is this controversial activity we call meditation. It’s an interesting word; it’s a misunderstood word; most of all, it’s a neglected word.
To “meditate” is to chew – again and again. Just like a cow chews the cud, God told Joshua to chew on His Word. The interesting thing about the word is how connected it is to words like muttering, musing, even speaking. In other words, meditation is not a silent and passive activity. Your mouth, body, mind, and spirit all work together when you meditate.
Your life will follow your meditation. So what are you chewing on?
Truth be told, meditating is not reserved for monks in a monastery. We meditate all the time. You already chew; the question is What are you chewing on? If you’ve ever complained in traffic; if you’ve ever shared a Facebook post; if you’ve ever rehearsed what you wanted to say to your boss; if you’ve ever sung along with a song on the radio; if you’ve ever quoted the lines of a movie … then you know how to meditate.
One of the breakthroughs in life comes when we get honest about the “monasteries” that we belong to. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Blogs. CNN. Sports talk. People magazine. Wired magazine. The National Enquirer. USA Network. Friends and family. Porn.
Your life will follow your meditation. It’s a law. Some objects of meditation lead you to worry. Some will lead you to pride. Some will get you angry. Others will stir you to gossip.
And then there’s God’s Word.
According to God, the key to transformation is not to empty your mind, but to fill it with His Word. And the promise is clear: then you will make your way prosperous, then your life will be built on a rock. (Joshua 1, Matthew 7)
This calls for daily injections of the Bible. Read it actively, attentively, and with some of your best energy. You’ll start to feel like God is talking to you (because He is). You’ll sometimes have the sense that these words are alive (because they are). So when you hit a passage that seems to really click, or apply, or comfort, or challenge … don’t rush by too quickly. You might even want to memorize a verse and keep repeating it throughout the day. Or share it on social media.
Pause. Chew. Think. Write it down. Say it out loud. Say it again. Say it again. Take it deep. Chew a little more.
Don’t be surprised when Jesus shows up. Because your life will follow your meditation.