A Christian Meditation on Making Solitude a Habit
When you wake up in the morning, if you immediately go to your phone, you immediately go to your social media, you immediately check your email, or you immediately start reading the news or turn on the morning news shows on TV — the first thing you’re doing in the day is to download the weight of a very stress-filled and anger-filled world, and you are stressed and depressed by noon. If you wake up in the morning, and immediately surrender your central nervous system to the cacophony of modern life, and then you're off and running — you’ve already surrendered your day to a thought system based on anger and fear and insecurity that dominates this world.If your podcast app is set to skip the silent sections, disable that for this podcast.This is a time to get away from all the min distractions — all the focus distractions — of your phone and social media and scrolling through email or the news. This is a quiet time to re-integrate and re-calibrate your soul — mind, body and spirit — with the life-giving presence of God’s Spirit. That’s the purpose of Christian meditation.Let’s begin by lying flat on your back or, if it’s more practical for you at this point, sit comfortably in a chair. Uncross your legs. Close your eyes.And let's just take a deep breath. Let’s get a slow rhythm of breathing started to calm your mind and body and put your body and mind in a disposition to be able to sense, using your biblically guided imagination, the presence of God’s Spirit. God‘s presence with you and in you.With each breath focus your mind on relaxing the muscles in your whole body a little bit more— especially with each exhale. Feeling your muscles soften. Feeling tension release throughout your body. And focusing your mind’s attention on feeling the sensation — the subtle sensation — of your body letting go of effort. Relaxing. Your body feeling heavier as it gives in to gravity. Becoming more calm. Your mind becoming more quiet.Let’s think of Jesus‘ words in...Matthew 6:6 (ESV)But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. In the Greek language this is originally written in the pronoun for you is either in the singular or plural. Most of the time Jesus says it it’s in the plural. But here it’s in the singular. Which is interesting. Jesus is specifically singling you out as an individual in this teaching and inviting you to go into your room and shut the door to be with God as your father who is in secret. Just you and God alone. And he says your father who sees in secret will reward you. Reward in the Bible is often the language for God revealing himself to us. Giving himself to us in a special way. He is our reward. Making his face shine upon us. Kind of like when James says draw near to God and he will draw near to you (James 4:8). Use your biblically guide of imagination now to see this as true for you right now in this moment. In this moment the God who created the entire universe is alone with you. The God who is unseen, sees you right now. Just as Jesus said, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Using your imagination, feel this reality right now in your body. You are alone with God. In the presence of God. In secret. In a solitary place of the transcendent peace of God‘s presence with you. He is your reward. He is bigger than any problem you face right now. He is bigger than anything that is giving you anxiety or fear or tension or stress or insecurity or anger. You are alone in the presence of the God who created the universe. Who lives forever and ever. Who is ultimate over all existence and the giver of all life.Feel this. Breathing slowly through your nose and sending the air low into your belly. Feeling your belly rise with the breath of life. And with each exhale feeling the sensation of your body letting go of self protective effort. Letting go of having to have the perfect will for your own life. Letting go of seeing your life as all about you. You are in the presence of God. The one who lives forever and ever. And he is the giver of life to every cell in your body. He holds together every atom in your body. You exist — you have your very being — because he wills it. And you are alone in his presence right now. And his very Spirit indwells your body right now in this moment. Use your imagination to feel this reality — this unseen reality — in your body right now. In this moment.Many of the passages in the Bible about being alone with God in prayer or meditation emphasize the morning, the hours of the morning. When you wake up in the morning is when your mind is most aware and sensitive to spiritual impressions and realities. That’s why it was Jesus’ practice in…Mark 1:35 (NIV)Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.Maybe you’re doing this podcast in the morning or maybe you’re doing it at another time of the day that works better for you.Either way, this is a time you’ve set aside to enter a kind of solitary place – whether physically or mentally and spiritually — this is a solitary time for you to meditate — to re-integrate your soul — your body with your mind and spirit, and re-calibrate your soul — mind, body and spirit — with the life-giving presence of God’s Spirit. This is a time to get away from all the distractions of your phone and social media and scrolling through email or the news. This is a time to recalibrate your body with your mind and spirit and re-integrate your soul — mind body and spirit — with God’s Spirit.As you continue to breathe, continue to focus on your slow rhythm of breathing, use your imagination to see yourself – your body — alone in the presence of God who sees in secret. And to imagine that God himself is your greatest reward right now. His presence with you. His love for you. And let that calm comfort and confidence replace tension in your body right now. Anxiety. Any insecurities. Fears. Anger fantasies. In our last episode we looked at…Psalm 118:24 ESVThis is the day that the LORD has made;Let us rejoice and be glad in it.This day is God‘s gift to you. Every day you live is a gift from God. Whenever we have a sense of entitlement we always think we deserve better. But every moment you live is an undeserved gift from God. And the more we understand that the more our heart is filled with joyful gratitude and glad appreciation that the eternal God chose to give us life.Another verse is like it…Psalms 90:14 (ESV)Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. We wake up in the morning, what we will do that first hour or so often sets the tone for our entire day.In his book the ruthless elimination of hurry, John Mark Comer writes…“I can’t think of a worse way to start my day then a text from my work, a glance at email, a quick scroll through social media, and a news alert about that day’s outrage. What I’m saying is, let prayer set your emotional equilibrium and scripture set your view of the world. Begin your day in the spirit of God‘s presence and the truth of his scriptures.“ So when you wake up in the morning, if you immediately go to your phone, you immediately go to your social media, you immediately check your email, or you immediately start reading the news or turn on the morning news shows on TV — the first thing you’re doing in the day is to download the weight of a very stress-filled and anger-filled world, and there is no mystery why your central nervous system is stressed and you are depressed by noon. If you wake up in the morning, and immediately surrender your central nervous system to the cacophony of modern life, and then you're off and running into your day — you have already surrendered your day to a thought system based on stress and tension and fight or flight and anger and fear and insecurity that dominates this world.Today you have an almost infinite amount of information about all the stress in the world. And our brains were not made to be able to handle an endless amount of the whole world’s dangers and stress. And this is taking a toll on our psyche and mental health to be sure.But with the taking on the stress of the world, it's an assault on the central nervous system. This is why we have the frayed adrenal systems that we have. Like Jesus, we must cultivate quiet, we must calm confidence as we start our day. This world will constantly be pulling you towards anger, it will be pulling you towards cynicism, it will be pulling you towards negativity, it will be pulling you towards judgmental attitudes and a narrative of constant victimization. Think of that word judgmental. It is as it says – judge – mental. A mental state of judgment rather than gratitude and calm confidence in God‘s presence and love and Lordship and every moment. In this moment – whatever the moment is. So each new day, try to include a time of quiet meditation and contemplation like we are doing here. Like Jesus did, start your day surrendering your mind and your body to a thought system based on a calm confidence of God’s presence and love and lordship in every moment of your day. Always in this moment – every moment of your day.Psalm 118:24 ESVThis is the day that the LORD has made;Let us rejoice and be glad in it.Psalms 90:14 (ESV)Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. We could also say, “all our day.”Through Christian meditation, instead of being an angry victim and judgmental in your mental state and body chemistry and disposition, you are able to bless everybody instead. Because you are walking in a blessed state yourself. You’re able to rejoice and be glad in God‘s unfailing love for you today! When you meditate on and feel the blessing of God upon you today — in this moment — it’s a blessing you want to give to everyone else you encounter throughout the day. In every moment. The blessing of joy. The blessing of love. The blessing of gratitude. The blessing of calm confidence and shalom. There’s a reason why the word shalom was the biblical greeting. Do you bless everybody? Before you go into your day, be prepared to be a blessing. Be spiritually awake and aware so that you do not miss God‘s goodness toward you in each day. Always right now in this moment.Because this is the day that the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.Psalms 90:14 (ESV)Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Timestamps:01:13 - 24:05 Bible Meditation: Mathew 1:3523:24 - 24:51 PrayerWho can you share this podcast with? If you found this episode helpful, consider sharing it on social media or texting it to a friend you think might benefit from it.Follow Dave Cover on Twitter @davecoverFollow A Bigger Life on Twitter @ABiggerLifePodOur audio engineer is Diego Huaman.This podcast is a ministry of The Crossing, a church in Columbia, Missouri, a college town where the flagship campus of the University of Missouri is located.