In addition to being a husband, dad and pastor. In my spare time I am also a magic eye expert. Do you remember those pictures? When you first look at the picture it looks like a bunch of colorful dots, but due to the wonders of digital technology they have hidden 3D pictures within the dots.
It is amazing how it works. You’ve tried them before, right? I remember at first I could not see a thing. One of the first Magic Eye pictures I encountered was in my dentist’s office. There was a wall full of Magic Eye pictures. And I would get my teeth worked on and then I would find the magic eye pictures and go to work. And I tried everything. I tried squinting. I tried crossing my eyes. I tried staring at it with out blinking. And inevitably a six year old would walk by after I had been staring at it for 20 minutes, my eyes watering because I had not blinked for five minutes straight. She would walk by, pause for five seconds and say, “Got it! Its a fairy riding a flying unicorn. Easy! Can’t you see it?”
I would respond weakly, “Yes, of course, I can see the…the unicorn thing and the…um….all those things you mentioned. And in case your wondering, I am crying because it is so beautiful!”
It would be like that every time. The kids would go right down the line.
“Got it. Dolphins!”
“Got it. Rainbow!”
“Got it. Birds!”
I couldn’t see it and I was working so hard. Actually, it got a little awkward. The hygienist would walk by and say, “are you ok?”
Three cavities and a root canal later, I was standing there and it clicked. It was a euphoric moment. It all came into focus and it was like the unicorn was flying out of the picture. (I still scrapbook about it today.) And then all of a sudden it was like night and day. I could see them all. I had finally figured it out.
So, now I went down the line, pushing kids out of the way.
“Bam, got it.”
“Bam, got it.”
“Bam, got it.”
“Oh kids you can’t see it? Too bad, so sad! Bam got it. Eagle wrapped in an american flag!”
There was nothing like being able to see it for the first time.
David the psalm writer had a similar, and probably less prideful,”Bam, got it” moment. He writes about being able to see and hear something as he stared up at the millions of little dots in the night sky. It is found in Psalm 19. I have inserted it below. Read it slowly. Deliberately. Let God whisper through it.
1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
2 Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
3 They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.[a]
4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.
Psalm 19:1-4 (New Living Translation)
Picture it. David is out on his terrace looking out at the endless constellations above him. More stars than could possibly be counted. Staring into the sky, he hears the voice of God. Not audibly, but his thoughts are led to reflect on the nature and glory of God. It is like his spirit aligned with God’s spirit and everything came into focus.
What we see David doing here is one of the great disciplines of the Christian life. It is the practice of meditation. Now, if you are like me, when I hear the word meditation I immediately think of someone sitting indian-style doing some strange chant. That’s not what I mean by meditation. What I mean is intentional focused reflection on God. Not sitting in the middle of the floor, but during everyday life. Here is the key in a nutshell, its looking at the normal, everyday things of life through the lens of God’s presence.
I discovered the power of this last week as I was thinking about an upcoming sermon. I realized that when I am preparing to teach, I look at the world differently. I am constantly sifting through my everyday experiences looking for stories, illustrations or ideas that relate to the primary passage of the week. It can be as simple as a comment my daughter makes about bugs, or the experience of cleaning out my van after it has become cluttered with crayons and flip flops or how much pain there is when that little toe gets stubbed. I find that I am looking everywhere for ways to relate God’s word in a way that makes sense in everyday life. What I find is that there is a little glimpse of God’s truth everywhere. It is amazing how many very ordinary things in life can shed light on God’s extraordinary word.
So this week, it dawned on me that this practice is more than simply getting content for a message, it is a spiritual discipline of looking for the voice of God every day in everyday things. I also thought, what would it take for me to reflect more often with that kind of intentionality–even when I didn’t have a sermon that had to be written. More than that, what would it take for all of us to create a discipline to look at the world with God’s eye, looking for his truth to emerge from our normal routines?
Here is one way. Try it and see if it works for you?
- Start the day with a passage of scripture. For your first shot, try Psalm 1. Focus on verses 1-3 which speak of the fruitfulness of a life devoted to God’s word.
- Then give yourself an assignment for the day. As you go about your day, look for examples of fruitfulness. Maybe its slicing up a watermelon and your thoughts turn to the sweetness of living a fruitful life. Or maybe you notice the watermelon seeds and you reflect on how we can sow seeds in other people’s lives because we are bearing fruit. Or maybe its walking through Meijer and you pass the produce aisle and your thoughts turn to the many kinds of fruit that God can produce in your life. Who knows what will come to mind that will help you think more deeply about God’s truth.
- Then here is the final step. Write it down before you go to bed. It does not have to be lengthy or elaborate. Maybe, “July 11th: Today, I was reminded of the power of God’s word when I was sprinkling miracle grow on my flowers. God help me to cultivate fruitfulness tomorrow.” That’s meditation. Try it out this week!
Let me leave you with David’s final words of Psalm 19:
14 May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Comment on this blog post about how your meditation is going or about other thoughts you may have about the topic! Or if you like this post, share it with others through the email or other social media links below.