"You are not alone".
That was the first thing God whispered to me as I sat still in my room meditating...waiting for Him. With these encouraging words, I took another deep breath and relaxed a bit. What I was doing seemed so different than anything I had ever been taught about how to spend time with God, or how to pray. Usually prayer and meditation were discussed as if they were one and the same. I hadn't seen meditation modeled, so I mostly associated it with images of Master Oogway, the wise old tortoise from Kung Fu Panda.
I was nervous! Afraid of making this into something weird, mystical, or even worse, heretical. And the last thing I wanted to do was to "open myself up" to any false spiritual forces (the same reason why I've always had a hard time doing yoga). But I also knew that God had something more for me - a depth of intimacy with Him that He knew my heart desired. And I knew that whatever I experienced through meditation would have to be tested by His Word. No Joseph-Smith-revelations here thank you very much!
As I sat there...waiting and expecting to just "be" with God...this is what I saw. He revealed a strikingly vivid image of a beautiful and eternal tree. I was in awe of this massive tree as I approached, and as I reached out to touch it, it was like my whole being became a part of the tree. I had become one of it's beautiful branches. I immediately felt filled with new life and brilliant light.
God reminded me of two passages in scriptures. Romans 11 talks about a wild olive shoot being grafted into a tree and sharing in it's nourishing root. Another verse in John 15 says "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me".
His Word had COME ALIVE before my eyes. This picture that I saw engaged my senses. It was a gift that day. A confirmation that God had things he wanted to tell me. Truths he wanted to bring alive in my soul. Truths that would go way beyond mental assent. Truth that I could EXPERIENCE, BELIEVE, and LIVE.
It was then that I realized I need not fear meditation. Over the past year He has taken me on a journey of inspiration, study, discussion, and practice to discover, WHAT IS MEDITATION? What is the difference between Christ-centered, universal, and transcendental meditation? What are the unique characteristics of biblical meditation? He is removing the fear of the unknown, and as He often does, replacing that fear with simple truth.
Meditation is pressing pause...in a life that seems to be moving in fast forward...long enough to give your full attention to your Creator. It is space to hear from Him and to breath in His presence.
So what is meditation and what should it lead to in our lives?
Christ-centered Meditation IS NOT...
Let me know what questions you've always wondered about regarding meditation - let's find the answers together!