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Deep Breath

Spiritual Training Cycle: Foundation (wk. 6/13)

After a workout, athletes have their own routines for what comes next. Some fall straight to the ground, hearts pumping out of their chests, grateful they are still alive. Others go immediately into cleanup mode, with their minds already focused on getting home but not before helping coach get ready for the next class. And some just stop – while time seems to stand almost still, they walk outside or find a quiet corner and begin a time of reflection. As they process some of what’s happened and consider the day to come, they breathe in all life has to offer by taking a deep breath.

All breathing is not the same. There’s the breathing you don’t notice, the autonomic breathing, responsible for the constant supply of oxygen and the discharge of carbon dioxide. There’s the rapid breathing during exercise. Those moments where the speed of your breathing increases like a ride up an escalator. Try as you might, the only way to bring the breathing back down is a brief rest between sets or rounds. Then there’s deep breathing. The kind of breathing that slows the heart rate, centers your thoughts, and like I said earlier, makes the world feel as though it slows down. Deep breathing is the beginning of the spiritual exercise of meditation.

Before I define what meditation is, let me tell you what it’s not. Meditation, which in this context is the meditation practiced in the Bible, is not emptying the mind of all thoughts. Meditation is not learning to think about nothing. Nor is meditation self-focused. Biblical meditation is a focus on God, His Works, or His Word, and a deep reflection on His truths. The ancient practice of meditation often included an activity that was done aloud, such as reading or reciting Scripture. Keep in mind that in the ancient world almost all reading was done out loud. The idea of meditation is to become absorbed in the fabric of God with the end goal of turning the thoughts about His truths into actions evidenced in your life.

In today’s passage, God gives the new leader of Israel some instructions. The Lord says to Joshua –

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips, meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8

Meditating on God’s Word internalizes it in our hearts so we can externalize it with our actions. All this month, I want to challenge you to breathe deep. Breathe deep in God’s Creation. Spend time in nature observing the truths of God as you wonder and marvel at all He has done and continues to do. Breathe deep in God’s Word. Take a passage of Scripture, or just one verse, and read it aloud. As you re-read it, begin to think about where and how it applies to your life. And finally, breathe deep in the Lord. Take moments throughout the week to slow down and create space to simply exist with God.

Meditation is not some new-age practice focused on how you make a better version of you. Meditation is the exercise of learning to breathe deep in the things of God and allowing them to transform you into the person God’s designed you to become. Fill your heart with the Works, the Word, and the presence of God, and you’ll see truth in a whole new way.

Questions for Reflection:

What’s been your own personal experience with meditation?

How does God’s instruction to Joshua speak to your own heart?

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