In the next two sections, Foster covers the purpose of meditation and common misconceptions.
The exercise of meditation, when it becomes habit, becomes ingrained in our everyday life. It moves from being a “law” to a “spirit” and instead of a highly impersonal theological idea, becomes a “description of daily life”. He is quick to point out that there is a proper attitude which balances the intense intimacy, with the deepening understanding that God is to be respected for his power.
I found the clarification of the first misconception to be most gratifying, since I often despair at having a ready answer for why my faith is different than other religions. Foster points out that Christian meditation is not just a matter of emptying ourselves, of detaching from the world and even our own personalities, but rather clearing our minds and hearts to allow God to FILL us with his Spirit. He cites the passage where a man who was saved by one evil spirit, becomes overwhelmed by many more because he did not then “fill his houses” with goodness. My thought is “evil loves a vacuum”
Foster states that Christian meditation, properly used, detaches us from the distractions of our busy world in order to clear the way for a stronger “communication system”. It is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. It is a tool to draw us closer to the heart and mind of God, in both the little matters of our individual lives, to the bigger issues of community failures…
So, I got through my sense of decrepitness (hmm.. wonder if that needs a spell/grammar check?) by avoiding it with lots of busy fun this weekend.. which comes to my next reading; Meditation, part I:
Foster starts this chapter with a pointed remark; “In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and “manyness”, he will rest satisfied”.
Wow. How many of us are guilty of these behaviors? And thus is his point, that we are sadly lacking in the consistent discipline of “listening and obeying”. Foster goes through several paragraphs of examples of characters throughout the Bible who “listened to God’s word”, reflected on God’s works, rehearsed God’s deeds, and ruminated on God’s laws, among others. He points out, through Psalm 119, that a believer’s focus on obedience and faithfulness to God that sets Christian meditation apart from other types. Foster also reinforces, as he stated in the introduction, that the people of the Biblical era knew the ways of meditation and scripture (unlike our modern generations). He also pointed to our ultimate example, Jesus during his own ministry, citing many verses that communicated his tendency to withdraw on his own in order to seek, listen to and commune with God the father.
Foster then goes on to define meditation as, simply stated, the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word. He pointed out through more biblical examples how throughout the continual wavering of man’s history, God still calls to us and still longs to respond to even our feeblest attempts to relate to Him. Together, these paragraphs form the biblical foundation for meditation.