My favorite meditative walk involves hiking a 1.7 mile trail around Mallard Lake at the Wehr Nature Center in Hales Corners, WI. On September 17, 2020, I spotted a great blue heron perched on a fallen tree that crossed a small river. That heron went about its hunting, unperturbed by my presence.
Blue herons range in size from 3.2 to 4.5 feet. In addition, its wingspan varies from 5.5 to 6.5 feet. Furthermore, the stately heron often stands motionless as it scans for prey. Or it wanders belly deep , using long, deliberate steps. Then, the heron strikes like lightning with its dagger-like bill.
Above all, specialized feathers on the great blue heron’s chest continually grow and fray. Using a fringed claw on its middle toe, the heron combs this ‘powder down.’ Then, the bird uses this down as a washcloth. The powder down removes fish slime and other oils as the heron preens its feathers. Finally, a high percentage of rod-type photoreceptors enables the heron to hunt at night as well as day.
Writing in his latest book, Can You Still Trust God?, Dr. Charles Stanley sees meditation and its spiritual application as an immense value enabling us to listen accurately to God. To sit quietly in a room alone. Hence, Dr. Stanley cites J. J. Packer’s working definition of meditation from his book, Knowing God:
“Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communication with God.”
Consequently, Dr. Stanley discusses six principle to help aid us in personal meditation.
1. A season of time. The essence of meditation involves a period of time you set aside. Purpose determines the length of time needed. During that season of time, you contemplate the Lord, listen to Him, and allow Him to permeated your spirit. As a result, this equips you in preparation for life.
2. Stillness. Stillness fosters your ability to concentrate. And as you sit quietly in a room alone, the competing elements of life gradually slip away. Thus, as your problems begin to diminish, God’s compassionate goodness, greatness, and grace come to the forefront of your mind.
3. Seclusion. At times God wants you alone. Because He desires your absolute, undivided attention. He wants to put His loving, divine arms around you. Above all, God’s private workings are often His most precious.
4. Silence. Often God wants us to sit before Him in quietness – so we don’t do all the talking. As a result, that allows Him to pour Himself into us. To interject His thoughts into our thinking. Finally, Dr. Stanley states, “Silence and seclusion before God allow Him to speak to our hearts clearly, positively, and unmistakably.”
5. Self-control. Dr. Stanley asserts that every believer needs to view self-control as a necessary discipline. Therefore, each day the believer must take deliberate steps to bring his/her mind, body, and life under control. In the process, the believer finds time to spend waiting and listening for God to speak. As you sit quietly in God’s presence. Let His Word speak to you.
6. Submission. To hear God adequately, you must totally surrender you mind and heart to Him. Perhaps, Dr. Stanley posits, the primary reason we fail to spend time alone with God is we dislike facing the kind of music He sends our way. The music of submission.