My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:2)
The four-step sequence of the lectio divina spiritual exercise commences with a reading of the Scriptures and a listening spirit. With an ear attuned to the voice of God, we read slowly, listening for those words or phrases that the Spirit draws to our attention. Once identified, our hearts turn not to our heads for translation, but to a period of reflection in which we immerse ourselves in the word or phrase in order to discover the message that God is delivering through it.
Meditatio is the next step that we ease into as our word or phrase has been heard. We are going to meditate on this small segment of God’s Word in order to discern what it means to us. Reflection enables us to delve much deeper in the words and asks the Spirit’s participation to direct our heart-thinking to communicate the nuances of the message. For example, we all read the beginning words of John 3:16 the same: “For God so loved the world…”. If I say that I love my wife and that I also love lasagna, it is easy for all of us to distinguish the difference in meaning between the two uses of the word love.
If the Spirit has raised the word love to our attention as we listened to the passage, as we meditate on the word He will communicate the specific application that it has for each of us. If I am struggling with a brother or sister in my faith community, God may communicate to me the need to surrender my position for the good of the other. Meditation on that word may reveal to you that God is pleased with your sacrificial love for others. There are innumerable messages that can invested in that simple word, all unique and most easily overlooked when we read simply to read the book. Meditating on the word moves it deeper, into our heart where the Spirit can cause it to reverberate and reveal its meaning. We do not seek definition, we seek revelation.
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:7
Our reflection centers itself on the single question, how are your revealing yourself to me Lord? Whether a single word, a verse or even a broader passage. Our immersion into the Scriptures is not seeking information, rather, we seek identification. The voice of the Lord speaks the passage directly to us and we are to receive it, perhaps differently than others who may be hearing the same exact passage. He may want us to take Peter’s place in the shadows as the cock crows, or to substitute for Mary in early morning chill as Jesus makes His first resurrected appearance. There may be warning or encouragement in “Be holy, because I am holy”. The single word “finished”, uttered from the cross may be the single reflection that alters your theological understanding of all that comes before and after.
Grace and peace to you.