Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Last week on my vacation Angela and I spent a few days in New Orleans where she attended a conference and we visited with my father and stepmother. With plenty of time on my hands during the day, I walked the short distance to the Garden District Book Store and enjoyed browsing the many selections. I never know what will grab my attention when I step into a bookstore; this time I found myself purchasing a book on meditation (Finding the Still Point by John Loori). Over the past week I have spent about fifteen minutes each morning practicing meditative stillness consisting of patterned breathing and attentive posture. The purpose of meditation is to empty and still yourself for the purpose of being fully aware of the present and, for Christians, to listen for the Spirit of God.

To this end, each morning I have chosen one word to meditate on and help to open my heart and mind, words like hope, love, and confidence (This doesn’t follow the book’s recommendations, which are strictly for Zen meditation, but I’m improvising). And so I have repeated to myself phrases like “I have hope in God. I have hope for my wife and children. I am filled with hope for the future. I live with hope through Jesus.” And so on with whatever word I have chosen for that day.

I don’t plan which word I am going to meditate on. When I sit down and start breathing I just use the first non-sports or food related word that comes to mind (which, ahem, can take a few minutes). This morning the word was “security.” I meditated on security and repeated phrases like “I am secure in God.” I am secure in my family’s love.” I have security in Christ.” “I am secure through life’s turmoil,” etc.

I don’t think it was random that the idea of security was on the forefront of my mind. In Houston last month we experienced the insecurity brought on by Hurricane Ike. This month we are all experiencing the insecurity brought on by the financial crisis. Early next month we face a presidential election which by its sheer magnitude and importance probably arouses some feelings of insecurity. All of this forces Christians to consider in what and whom we will find our security. Listen, none of the above is insignificant or trivial; the hurricane, financial collapse, and election SHOULD be taking up much of our attention! But attention is not the same as anxiety. And therein lies our challenge.

To decide “I will do my best to deal with such and such while resting secure in the hope I have through Jesus Christ” is a biblical and faithful sentiment. The Bible doesn’t tell us to stick our heads in the sand or be blasé about circumstances and conditions. Rather, the scriptures instruct us to remember who is ultimately in control and what is of ultimate importance.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). This is a tremendously powerful and liberating truth!

It’s worth meditating on. With or without the patterned breathing.


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