“Blessed is the man who LISTENS to me, who WATCHES
daily at my gates, who WAITS beside my doors” (Proverbs 8:34).
STOP, LOOK, LISTEN used to be a warning sign found at most, if not all, railroad crossing in North America. The one I remember most stood at the top of the hill above my maternal Grandfather’s cottage on the Bay of Chaleur in New Brunswick, Canada, where I used to spend my summers as a child. Gang Gang, the name I gave my Grandfather when I was a toddler, and our family, always observed the warning for a good reason. There had been more than a few accidents on that crossing over the years. One of them had been fatal.
The sign stood there as a caution that if you valued your life you would do exactly what it said; you would stop, look and listen! No matter how much in a hurry you were in, the safest thing, and that which would guarantee your safe passage across the tracks, was to do what it said. Thousands of tragic stories, however, fill the annuls of railroad crossing lore—stories told of those who were impatient, who were in too much of a hurry to stop, look and listen.
This is actually a picture of choices everyone faces in life, and believers in particular. Many get so busy that they don’t have time to slow down, let alone stop and listen. As much as this may be detrimental to their physical well-being, few seem aware how equally true it is for that spiritual part of us that goes on living forever. The Bible makes it clear that without taking time to spiritually stop, look, and listen, our growth as worshipers of God will be seriously handicapped.
Stop, Look and Meditate
Many, when they think of the word meditation, immediately think of Eastern religions. The Bible, however, contains numerous references and admonishments regarding meditation. In the Psalms alone, the song writers mention meditation fourteen times. In fact, in the second verse of the very first Psalm we read, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Day and night!
There are no spiritual shortcuts to spiritual growth. Though our salvation is a gift, something we cannot pay for, growth in the wisdom and knowledge of God is going to cost. This cost, however, ought not to keep us from the goal of getting to know more intimately the One we worship, never satisfied with what we already know about God. As we grow in this knowledge we grow in our ability to offer Him the worship He is worthy of, keeping in mind that THE MEASURE IN WHICH WE KNOW GOD IS THE MEASURE TO WHICH WE’LL BE ABLE TO WORSHIP HIM.
When we lived in NW Arkansas we used to frequently pass a herd of cows on our way to the airport. Often this would coincide with their feeding time and some would already be lying on the ground, meditating, chewing the cud, quietly assimilating what they had ingested but not yet digested. They were taking the time to get as much benefit as they could out of the meal they had eaten.
Paul told Timothy, his son in the ministry, to meditate and to be diligent in thinking about the matters Paul was writing to him about—the meaning of love, faith and purity. “Meditate on these,” Paul said. “Give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:15-16).
The Psalmist prayed: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). In Psalm 143:5 he says, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all your doings; I muse on the work of your hands.” In other words, the Psalmist was spending time focusing on the deeds and acts of God; on His creation, the works of His hands. And as he did, his understanding of the nature of God expanded and his desire and ability to worship God increased.
In Philippians 4:8 the Apostle Paul admonishes us: “Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever thins are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—think on these things.” In other words, meditate on them!
Meditation is so important to our growth as worshipers of God that the enemy will do everything he can to discourage us, to place all the distractions he can in our way, to raise every excuse imaginable for us not to take the time to meditate. It takes discipline, determination, and constant readiness to stop, look and listen. In Psalm 8:34-35 we find God promising a blessing, favor and life, for those who daily practice this. “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching (looks) daily at my doors, waiting (stopping) at my doorway. For whoever finds me, finds life and receives favor from the Lord.”
THE QUIET TIME
The quiet time, the quiet time, when I sit at Jesus’ feet.
Those special, hallowed moments when the earth and heaven meet.
Preparing for the day ahead, I feast upon the Living Bread;
My soul’s restored, my heart’s renewed in the quiet time.
The quiet time, the quiet time, the Spirit’s voice I hear.
Communing with my blessed Lord, His holy presence near.
I look into His matchless face, I praise Him for His amazing grace.
I face the day, I go with Him from the quiet time.
“Blessed is the man who LISTENS to me, who WATCHES