A Refuge from the Approaching Storms
I sprinted up the hill toward the old mineshaft at breakneck speed. Without warning the sky overhead had turned black and several funnel clouds were snaking down writhing in various unpredictable directions. I yelled for the others to follow me but most of them seemed oblivious to the danger gyrating overhead, and I found myself entering the old goldmine with only a few others.
It was a familiar, safe place to me—a place I visit every morning where I find the peace and solitude that continue with me throughout the entire day. Inside the mine were raised planting beds, about waist high, filled with the finest soil—dark, rich and crumbly just waiting for the insertion of seeds. One would not expect to find planting beds in an underground mine, but in my dream it seemed perfectly logical. I found myself busy planting large seeds in neat rows. Occasionally I wasn’t sure I had done it correctly and would ask the Owner who lived at the mine for help. He would kindly explain where each seed belonged.
Time passed quickly and I became so engrossed in my work that I forgot about the tornadoes. Suddenly a noise from outside caught my attention. I opened the door of the mine to investigate. To my dismay, the tornadoes were in the yard surrounding the mine. I yelled for anyone who could hear to come in for safety. A black whirlwind much smaller than the tornadoes was actually right at the door about to tear it off forcing me to close it.
I awoke from my dream believing God had spoken again about destructive forces (tornadoes) soon to engulf our nation. My first tornado dream occurred about ten years ago when they were approximately thirty miles away. Then again last year they were just a few blocks away. Now they were in the yard and a strong whirlwind was at the door.
As I prayed for God’s interpretation of the dream, I realized the whirlwind at the door represented the many trials people in our church and elsewhere were experiencing—death of a loved one, illnesses impervious to antibiotics, marriage problems, job difficulties, flooded basements, etc.—all were situations testing our faith. I knew God had allowed these trials to strengthen us for what lies ahead. The owner of the mine was, of course, Jesus. The seeds I was planting represented the word of God I was planting in the soil of my heart.
None of us knows the future, but we can see powerful forces at work in our nation working to undermine Christian principles and destroy the biblical foundations upon which America was founded. We know that when a nation professes to serve God and then turns away and denies Him, a righteous God has no choice but to allow it to reap the consequences of its own bad decisions. We may not be able to change the forces already set in place, but we can prepare ourselves for things to come.
God has a place of safety for those who diligently seek and obey Him—a place of peace that cannot be shaken by the fiercest storm. It is a place we build ourselves, in our own heart through the incorporation into our lives of that which can never be shaken—the Word of God. If we merely read the Word, we remain on the surface where storms can ravage, but when we meditate on His Word, we go underground where gold, silver and precious stones are found. These are the substances we want to incorporate into our lives—indestructible qualities of faith and character that are the very life of Christ Himself.
We are responsible for the condition of the soil of our heart. (It would be good to stop a moment and read the parable of the soils in Matthew 13.) We can have a heart where the soil is hard and rocky such as at the side of a road where a seed of God’s Word, when sown, lies on the surface where birds can snatch it away (Matt. 13). Seeking to learn about Jesus and then obeying Him will soften that soil so the seed can sink down and take root. Or perhaps we get offended over things in our Christian walk and turn away from our pursuit of God allowing our heart to become stony. Then there are hearts full of thorns that choke out the Word—thorns allowed to grow because of our preoccupation with worldly concerns. If we are wise, we will make decisions that will cause the soil of our heart to be rich, crumbly soil where seeds of the Word will take root downward and bear fruit upward. Meditation can change our hearts and cause seeds of truth to flourish in our lives.
For many years I desired to meditate on the Word but didn’t know how. I once attended a seminar where we were encouraged to memorize large blocks of Scripture, like a whole psalm or an entire chapter, and then meditate on it. I diligently memorized several passages but never could figure out the meditation part. The speaker had suggested as an example that we draw a picture of righteousness. I remember staring at a blank piece of paper with pencil in hand experiencing a complete blank as to what righteousness looks like.
Years later I came across an obscure Scripture verse in Judges Five, a chapter that records the rejoicing of Deborah and Barak in their triumph over their enemies in battle. This verse states, “They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates.”
This verse holds the key to meditation—a practice that will silence the voice of the enemy and prepare the soil of our heart to receive seeds of faith that will produce much fruit and bring us into the Kingdom of God—His rule and reign of peace and joy in our hearts.
The first part of this verse describes our problem from which we need deliverance—the noise of archers. The word for “archers” in the original Hebrew is chatsats and it means “to divide,” “to cut off.” We need to be delivered from the noise of something that divides or cuts us off. This can be better understood in context of the next phrase “in the places of drawing water.” The Word of God is the water (Eph. 5:26); therefore, places of drawing water would be the Bible. We need to be delivered from the noise that “cuts us off” from the Word of God.
For many of us, when we attempt to spend time in the Bible, there are distractions, noises if you will, that cut us off from that which we desire to do. It may be literal noise from family members, neighbors, etc. or it may be the distractions in our own mind that cause our mind to wander…some problem, temptation, fear or even our love for the world can hinder our ability to focus on what we are reading. For some people a dissociated mind with many alters switching in and out can be a tremendous problem when trying to focus on the Bible.
Let’s look at this verse in Judges again: “They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates.”
Now we can see that the first phrase is stating our problem—our inability to focus on the Word. The next clause reveals the solution to this difficulty. We are to “rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord” described throughout Scripture. When we rehearse something we go over it again and again until we know it.
For example, choose a story from the New Testament where Jesus did something—healing the blind man in Mark 8:22-26 for example. Let’s look at this passage now from the New International Version:
They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man\’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man\’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don\’t go into the village.”
After you have read the passage, close your Bible and tell the story in as much detail as you can. Go over it several times until you can accurately tell the story in your own words. Next, and this part really brings the passage down into your heart, try to picture the story in your mind. This forces you to add many details. What did the town look like? How many people were leading the blind man to Jesus, and how were they dressed? Listen to their voices as they implore Jesus to heal the man. Look for the expression of compassion on Jesus’ face when he sees the blind man. Observe the halting gait of the blind man walking as Jesus leads him outside the village. One challenging picture to build is Jesus spitting on the man’s eyes. I imagined Jesus taking the man’s face in His hands, drawing close and explaining to him what He was about to do so the man would not be shocked by Jesus’ actions.
After you have completely formed the whole scene in your mind, try the next step which is to put yourself into the story. Imagine you are there. Which person would you be—one of the persons leading the blind man? or perhaps one of the onlookers? I chose to be the blind man because I desire healing for my myopic eyes. Perhaps this meditation will increase my faith for healing.
Another aspect of meditation is asking questions of the Lord. Why did He take the blind man outside of the village in order to heal him? Why did He tell him not to go back into the village? Why did He spit on his eyes? God will give you the answers as you seek to understand the passage. This whole process helps us focus our mind on Scripture. It takes us beneath the surface of the Word, and it takes the Word down into our heart.
Another thing you might want to do in this meditation is look up some of the words in a concordance for a more exact meaning of the Greek words in which it was originally written.
Looking again at the verse from Judges, we read that after they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, they go down to the gates. In biblical times the cities were often walled and one had to actually descend from a road in order to reach a gate on a lower level through which one could enter the city. I believe God wants us to enter the New Jerusalem in our hearts—a place of Jesus’ presence where there is beauty, peace, and safety. We don’t have to die to go there. We can enter in now in our hearts, and we will be in an impregnable fortress that will stand immoveable through any storm life sends our way. Meditation will take us there.