I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts.
Psalm 77.12 (The Message)
There is a great difference between glancing and gazing. We glance at a friend’s familiar face, but we gaze into the eyes of a person we deeply love and are moved by the power of such emotion. We glance at a newspaper article, but we gaze at a legal document we are expected to sign and realize that understanding is a powerful thing. We glance at a snowman standing on a neighbor’s lawn, but we gaze at a snow-covered mountain and find ourselves awed and humbled at the majesty spread before us. It is the same with our relationship with God. When we want to move from the glance of acquaintance to the gaze of intimacy, we are ready for Christian meditation.
Unlike various other forms of meditation, Christian meditation is not about us or “getting in touch with” ourselves. The psalmist wrote, “I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts” (Psalm 77.12, The Message). Like the other spiritual disciplines, meditation involves slowing down and being unhurried. It is then that we can gaze upon God’s Word, His amazing works in our lives, His people (seeing them as He does and rejoicing in them), or His creation.
A gaze not only lingers longer than a glance, but a gaze also produces far more than a glance. The gaze upon God that we enjoy in meditation will produce within us a stronger love for Him, a deeper insight into His truth, a sweeter appreciation for His creation, and a calmer, more serene spirit just because we are more keenly aware of how near He is.
In 1903, after two of his nieces died from diphtheria, Cleland B. McAfee wrote the words to the beautiful hymn, “Near to the Heart of God.” It is a spot that he described as a place of quiet rest, a place of full release, and a place of comfort sweet. Meditation ushers us into that chamber of precious intimacy.