September 13, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines III: Contemplation of God

"Silent Contemplation"
by Pino Daeni
Hand Embellished Giclee on Canvas
30in x 30in
Vining’s Gallery-Smyrna, Georgia

How I Responed to The Idea of Contemplation

To me contemplation is taking something known about God or things of God (His Word) and dwelling intently on it. Although all contemplation may not be a totally conscious willful effort (some may be of the Spirit), I believe the initiation of it is indeed consciously initiated. When I contemplate the word contemplation (pun intended) I think of thinking deeply. Sometimes these deep thoughts surface on this blog. Sometimes the not-so-deep thoughts surface on this blog too.

What Things Do I Contemplate?

Primarily I start with God’s Word (Scripture) as it is a “known” to assure anchorage in that which is truly of God. I need a basis for thought and the Bible narrows me in quickly since patience has not yet become a virtuous by-product of my Christian life yet :). Once grounded in a passage of Scripture to assure I am on the “things of God” I try to push out the things of the world and focus on the attributes of God and how Jesus would have approached the passage I have latched onto.

When I do not use Scripture as anchorage I tend to be more scattershot in my approach to contemplation. Unfortunately, these sessions are not always as productive because of the very reason they are not totally grounded in the precepts of God. I often contemplate a mixed bag of worldly and non-worldly things. This becomes spiritually dangerous and often fruitless.

What Happens When I Contemplate?

I contemplated things before becoming a believer but something changed after conversion. Where before I would contemplate and think and things would fall mentally out by systematic deduction or in a linear manner… The things that would come to mind would usually always stay within that “thinkings” line of reasoning or topic…but that has now changed. When I begin to contemplate on a certain subject there is now no guarantee that it will be the subject that I end with. Sometimes ideas, thoughts or answers that now come to mind may have little or nothing to do with the original idea. It is as if God is saying, “You are not even thinking about this right and your line of thinking is wrong. You need to come over here and think along these lines.” It is as if God literally drops the idea in the road in front of my thinking to purposely detour me and sent me off in the right direction which usually ends up being a different direction completely. I have found nearly always that it works too. Contemplation now seems more non-linear and more nebulous. Less systematic, logical and empirical and more networked, amalgamation and spiritual. This is the thing. God does not move according to our schedules and ways of thinking. So we need to adapt to be sensitive to subtle changes. We need to slow down and realize what we might be looking for is not the correct way to look for God.

How Does Contemplation Affect My Journey and Relationship With God?

To my eyes the journey appears haphazard and disorganized. I trust God though and realize that His ways are not our/my ways. What makes no sense to me I imagine makes perfect sense to Him. I can only see the things within my box and quadrant that God has given me the eyes to see, whereas He sees all and sees everything. I can only see the things that God choses to reveal to me/us but He orchestrates a near infinite accumulation of actions, sights, sounds, etc. into His perfect plan. It is in these realms and contemplations that I try grasp the “otherness” of God. He is beyond me and I accept that. There is security in it. If He is THAT powerful He most certainly could’ve taken on the form of a man to die for my sins. He most certainly was capable of rising from the dead. It is in these thoughts I begin to regain the awe and optimism of God that I had in childhood but gradually lost as a jaded adult. Blessed be His merciful name: Jesus Christ. Thank you.

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