There is no repose for the mind except in the Absolute;
for feeling, except in the Infinite;
for the soul, except in the Divine.
• Henri Frédéric Amiel, Journal
Most of life rushes past us and we have all experienced that horrible bullwhip feeling that suddenly lassoes us from behind, leaving us face down or in the wrong direction and wondering what happened. We’ve forgotten to live forward, and understand the Bible backwards. (What’s that mean!?)
We’ve forgotten Christian meditation which incorporates two things: the mind and the heart. It incorporates the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, prayer, and silence to ponder.
Where is it done? Anywhere, but it is best done outside in God’s creation, a centuries-old tool for meditation.
What’s its purpose? To open our heart to understanding two things properly: our lives now and our life contextualized in the greater story of history.
On comprehending the Scriptures (as they apply to us), Luther said, “…we read the Bible forward, but..we understand it backwards.”
We live in the world but our eventual destiny is still before us. Reading the Scriptures is a necessary precondition just as one cannot admire architecture if the builder was not given the plans in the first place. Still, part two of Luther’s statement tells us we must take the time to understand. The best knowledge of God is useless without true comprehension.
Secondly, since our true life is hid with Christ in God, we need to use meditation to cultivate the habit of interpreting our life in light of eternity:
Kierkegaard said: “Life …(is) understood backwards; but… lived forward. ”
This is properly “living forward” and why Peter could say so bluntly:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer… Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. I Peter 4:12-16