I’ve never had to cut my own path through the wilderness, but I’ve seen it done in movies (that I cannot recall at the moment). Apparently, the task requires a machete, as well as good sense of direction. (What good would it be to cut a path taking you the wrong way?)
This is the analogy I associate with January’s reading and practice of chapter 1 in Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Meditation is a way to cut a path through spiritual wilderness; the Holy Spirit provides the direction. The destination? The inner sanctuary, where we can cultivate a relationship with Jesus. This is our meeting place, our sacred ground. Meditation is the how we find our way:
“[Meditation creates] the emotional and spiritual space which allows Christ to construct an inner sanctuary of the heart.” (20)
Creating space is the hard part—hence, the machete. Cutting back the overgrowth in my heart and soul is grueling work. There are tangles of lies and sin habits that entangle and snare, keeping me from sensing God’s presence and distracting me with many lesser things. God’s Word is the only weapon sharp enough to slice and dice the weeds. Even so, it is often slow work, requiring the steady chop, chop, chop of truth until the strongholds give way and I’m free to move forward.
It makes sense that meditation was the first discipline of Foster’s book. Focusing upon God’s Word is the only way our hearts will become that inner sanctuary where we can commune with Jesus. For if we apply spiritual practices without finding the One we are seeking, all our striving will be in vain.
Psalm 84 has cleared out a chunk of wilderness in me this past month: “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion” (Psalm 84:5, ESV). A commentary note says that “Zion” refers to the place where God can be found. Therefore, meditation paves the highways that lead me straight to Jesus. The development of these roads will make the practice of other disciplines easier—once the roads are in place, you don’t weary yourself out just getting there.
February’s chapter is on the discipline of prayer. Grab a copy of the book and join me!