"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffer! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:1-2
One of the first things I remember being encouraged to do after coming to Christ and becoming a part of His Church, was that I needed to have quality "devotional time." Others may refer to it as "quiet time." The crux of it all was that I needed regular periods spent in studying His Word, and in prayer. It was called "spiritual discipline," and it's importance was not left in doubt. So, wanting to do what was right, and also wanting to please Him, I embarked upon having those regular times. I was told I needed to do it, so I did. And it's there that the real problem comes in. As I heard someone put it, our times with Him should never be something we have to do. A requirement. They need to be about who we are. Most of us seem to live in the former, and we miss the joy and wonder of the latter.
I think it's a great tragedy in the church that so few of us, pastors and teachers included, really understand what riches are to be had in our spending time with Him. When we approach it as a duty, then our mind and attention are on things like how long, how much, and how often? We're looking for some kind of standard to be met. Some place that He'll find acceptable and that both He, and we, can live with. We miss the truth that His longing is to spend rich time with us. Intimate time. Life changing time. His heart in union with ours. His mind speaking into our mind. He does this directly through His Word, but also through prayer, and through a word we don't care very much for; meditation.
For the believer, meditation is simply allowing Him to fill our minds with His Word and His Truth. As we're still before Him, He whispers His Truth and Life into the areas of our being that so deeply need to hear and absorb it. It becomes a part of us. It becomes who we are, and our living in His presence becomes a moment by moment experience where His very Life is constantly flowing through every part of our being. It's not limited to a devotional or quiet time. It is an ongoing intimacy that is literally, as the Psalmist say, "day and night." It's not a duty. It's our joy. It's our life. It is not a "to do" time. It's a "who I am" time.
For so many, the words, the ways, the promises of God aren't real to us. We may believe that all of it is real, but it isn't real to us. He, and they, are not impacting our lives in the way that He wishes, in the way that He created us for. Like the great cartoon character Calvin, from the wonderful strip, Calvin and Hobbs, who had to be forced out the door to school each day, so do we seem to have to be forced to come into His presence. Rarely do we approach these times with joyful expectation. That's likely because there is so little expectation that we'll meet Him there. More, we feel if we don't, we'll anger Him, and there will surely be very unpleasant consequences. So we read our obligatory chapters and pray our obligatory prayers. We "pay" Him what we think we owe Him and what we believe He feels we owe Him.
I'm so thankful that I learned the joy of prayer and the study of His Word early in my walk. Even so, there were still times when I felt that if I missed, I would pay a heavy price for it. The "duty" taskmaster was at work in my mind. He still can show up even now. He's a liar. Our times with Him don't earn His favor. He seeks to bestow that always. And while it is true that prolonged absence from His presence will surely bring leanness to our souls, He draws us to Himself not as the stern schoolmaster, but as our loving Father who is passionate about sharing Himself with us. And our lives don't become an "I have to," connection with Him, but an "I get to" one. And that is how He wishes us to see all of our coming to and living in Him. We get to. It's a shared joy. His and ours. He's not just waiting for us. We're already there. That really is "wondrous love."
We live in a fallen world, filled with fallen influences and powers. The counsel we walk in determines everything, both now, and in eternity. If you consider yourself His, then whose counsel do you walk in? Scripture says that we don't live by bread alone, but by "every word that comes from the mouth of God." His bread of life. Many, like children seeing vegetables on their plate, eat it under protest. The goal is to get it over with as quickly as possible. Others as the very bread of their life. Bread that they eagerly seek and feed upon. Which one are you?.....One last thought. We sing so much of His great love for us. Love that compelled Him to offer up His only Son in order that we might have life through Him. Isn't a Father God whose love for us is so infinite that it went to such a sacrificial length, worth immersing ourselves in, growing deeper in? If you say yes, shouldn't you not let anythig keep you from His embrace....and He from yours?