Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Practice Of Pondering

Hey Friend,
Last week I challenged you to choose people over pixels, Creation over cyber-space and now this week I would like to take a look at scripture over surfing and scrolling.  Remember, it's all in finding a balance.
Even as a child, I was a voracious reader.  Perhaps being an only child contributed to my being able to get so caught up in a book that I would barely take time to eat.  I devoured books and loved to let my imagination run wild.  Another offshoot of reading a lot, I believe, is that I learned to read very quickly while still retaining comprehension of what I had just read.
I remember in school...the teacher would give us a section to read out of our books silently in class.  She would tell us to close our books to signal that we were done.  As you might imagine, I would read the section lickity split and be sitting there twiddling my thumbs wondering what in the world was taking everyone so long?
The down side of my speedy reading is that I tend to skim just about everything...the newspaper, books, magazines, devotionals and yes...even scripture.  If I have read/heard a scripture many times, I am guilty of really skimming past it.  Jean Fleming in her book "Pursue The Intentional Life", challenges readers to practice the art of pondering.
I would like to take the pondering one step further and challenge you to make the scripture personal...claim it as your own!!
One way to make it personal is to insert your name into the scripture or use the words "I" and "me".
Example:  "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."  (John 8:36)
Ponder:  "So if the Son sets me free, I will be free indeed."
Remember when your mom told you to really chew your food?  I encourage you to really chew on scripture.  Break it down word by word and let it roll around in your mind for awhile.  Claim its truth for yourself.  Personalize it. 
Mary, mother of Jesus, was good at pondering God's words to her through the angel Gabriel.  The Bible says: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)
Scripture itself compels us to ponder:  "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."  (Colossians 3:16)
Let = allow in (allow the word of Christ in)
Dwell = meditate upon (no skimming or speed reading)
Sing = recite what you've learned
Oh, if only we let the word of Christ dwell richly in us.  If only we gave His Word plenty of room in our lives?!
So when do we ponder the Word?
David says, "The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes."  (Psalm 119:95)
But his [man's] delight is in the word of the Lord, and on his word he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2)
So why do we ponder the Word?
Revelation 1:3 says there is a special blessing for those who read God's word.
"The secret of joy is the practice of meditation - that is the way to have this joy of the Lord.  We must meditate upon Him, upon what He is, what He has done, His love to us and upon God's care for us who are His people."  (Martyn LLoyd-Jones)
"The secret to joy is meditating on God's care - not on earth's snares."  (Ann Voskamp)
So how do we ponder the Word?
One summer when I was not teaching I put together what I call a First-Aid or Emergency Kit of scriptures.  I actually wrote down scriptures that spoke to me during certain trials and tribulations in my life.  I included scriptures that spoke to my "hot buttons" or Achilles heel.  I wrote each verse individually on brightly colored index cards and laminated them (teachers laminate everything). 
If I was really organized I would group them according to topic ie: grace, guilt, worry, hope, anxiety, etc.  I hole punched them and put them on a round ring so that I can remove a certain scripture and tape it on my bathroom mirror if I feel like I need that extra reminder. 
Hide God's word in your heart.  Memorize it.  Study it.
The day is going to come when you will need the sword of scripture.
Don't be like me...don't skim scripture.  Ponder it.  Chew on it.  Take it line by line and word by word if you have to.  Read it in context.  Who was talking to whom?  What was the context or situation?  Then personalize it and claim it!
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them they would outnumber the grains of sand.
(Psalm 139:17-18)
How I pray that God's words and thoughts would be precious to me like the way they were to David.  Notice his use of exclamation marks (which are not widely used in the Bible).  How I pray that I would slow down and drink in God's word and really and truly ponder it in my heart the way Mary did. 
Will you join me in practicing the art of pondering God's Holy word?  Would you share ways you've been able to personalize and claim scripture as your own?  I would love to hear from you!
In His love,
ps.  As we look forward to celebrating Independence Day, may we all personally thank someone who has served or who is serving in our armed forces so that we may enjoy the freedoms that we have.  Extend that thanks to the spouses of service men and women too - who hold down the fort at home.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!
Dear Service men and women (and their families),
May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.  (Numbers 6: 24-26)