Friday, September 7, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: How to hear God in a society of sound bites


On Meditation and Study
A devotional by Lisa Lickel

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” –Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

“Study is a specific kind of experience in which through careful attention to reality the mind is enable to move in a certain direction. … Meditation is devotional; study is analytical.” 
–Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline

We have become a society of sound bites, of little blasts of noise we learn to ignore. I remember a report stating that children’s concentration has been ruined by watching what was once considered innovative programming to teach counting, the alphabet, and rudimentary vocabulary. I was horrified that I had ruined my children.

The backlash is no television at all in some households. I bring this point up when discussing the Discipline of Study and Meditation because I agree that our culture no longer admires concentration or memorization and mocks contemplation. Those who sit to enjoy a morning cup of tea or take a stroll over the lunch hour are time-wasters who will never “get ahead.” 

I wrote a biography of a successful businessman who drilled into his children to take advantage of every moment of the 168 hours in a week. You can probably spout two or three similar maxims. You may be one of those people who have difficulty calming your spirit for a few minutes to watch a bumblebee or know someone who feeds your guilt if you do.

As I develop a sense of quietude in the renewal of my faith life, I desire to study again the Scripture I once read frantically for years. I had different versions of the Bible—you know, the women’s devotional Bible, and one for married people; the different Bible studies through “this” organization or “that” famous spiritual leader; seasonal guides, some of which I even wrote for. Yes, I am involved in a fresh study book in my newly challenged faith walk, reading chunks of scripture weekly and asking questions. Outside of the noisy public group that discusses this book, I find in my preparations a new discipline of four steps that allows me to appreciate and find ways to apply God’s Word.

For the first step, I recall my Russian professor who used to say, “Repetition is the mother of learning.” ’Nuff said? Trying to bite off too big of a one-time piece of information overwhelms our ability to do anything with it and we invariably spit it out. Go small, go slow, chew well.

Steps two and three, Concentration and Comprehension, require me to pay attention in the moment as well as consult other varied, balanced resources. Instead of masticating into mush, or re-reading the same thing, my appetite for knowledge is renewed. It’s going beyond the thought of “what am I eating?” to recognizing the different flavors. In reading, I ask “what does that (word/phrase/custom) mean to me here and now?”

And, finally, the step where the discipline of silence, the ability to focus and listen, comes to fruition: Reflection. Here is my humble self, willing to open my spiritual eyes and my spiritual ears to see and hear what Christ my teacher wants me to practice what He preaches. These reflections guide my growth and application of what I am learning, as I will forever be in learning and opening-my-heart mode. 

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." ~I Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)

My Prayer: Feed and grow my desire to love you (God), know you, and honor you all the days of my life.

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Author Bio:
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. 

A multi-published and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and workshop leader. 

She is a member of Chicago Writers Association and part of Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc., mentoring writers from across the US and Canada. 

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1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful prayer! I, too, pray God will grow and feed my desire to know Him and honor Him. I want to help lead others to Him.

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