The spiritual discipline of reflection includes several alternatives: journaling, meditating, processing with a friend, even via creative alternatives like photography, hand crafts, and strolling outdoors. Depending on one’s personality and preference, reflection can take on various ways of being deeply present with God, others, and even oneself.
Reflection is best done in the context of one’s prayer closet, when time is taken to simply be present to the reality of one’s experiences, thoughts, relationships, responsibilities, and desires with and before God. When combined with the Scriptures and prayer, reflection is the place where ideas germinate, memories are enjoyed, relationships get refocused, and decisions are solidified in the intimacy of fellowship with the Lord.
To live without much room for reflection, one can easily miss the true meaning and significance of so much that life affords. As a Christian, it’s important to reflect…and in so doing, to remember and give thanks to the Lord, the author and giver of life. To remember is to recall the gifts that come generously from the hand of Almighty God. Since all of life is under God’s tutelage, if we ignore that reality we begin to consider much of life as being fulfilled in our own strength, wisdom, and commitment. However, God delights when we acknowledge – with thanksgiving – His presence, power, and guidance at work in, through, and around us moment by moment, day by day.
In the Bible, we see many places where the people of God chose to remember and give thanks. Read 1 Samuel 7:7-13…when God thundered against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that the Israelites were able to conquer them in battle. On the heels of that victory, the Philistines were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory. To remember and give thanks for God’s strong hand of protection, Samuel placed a stone between Mizpah and Shen…he called it Ebenezer.
Earlier in the Bible, Genesis 28, we read about how Jacob took the stone he had used to sleep upon and turned it into a “memorial stone” of encouragement. God was encouraging Jacob by reminding him of the promise He Himself had made to Jacob, “I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you!” His dream about a stairway to heaven was God’s way of reminding Jacob of His love and faithfulness…the stone was for Jacob a way to remember and give thanks.
For many years, the Israelites had seen God do some amazing things: delivering them from Egyptian captivity, splitting the Red Sea, providing manna in the desert, and giving them the ten commandments. Now they were finally crossing the Jordan River into the promised land. After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, they were finally arriving in the land of Canaan. God did not want them to forget this moment, so He commanded them to make a “memorial” out of twelve stones taken from the midst of the Jordan River. (Joshua 4:5-7)
These are just a few examples of how God’s people remembered and gave thanks for the ways God’s faithfulness was manifest in their midst. By far the most supreme act of sacrifice in behalf of His people is Jesus’ death for us on the cross. The Lord’s Supper is therefore the premier place where we gather regularly to remember and give thanks, “This do in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22; 1 Cor. 11).
The discipline of reflection continually takes us back to the many places where God’s love and faithfulness is remembered…and held with an open heart of gratitude and praise. Will you reconsider the importance of this practice for yourself?
This coming weekend we celebrate the first decade of ministry for Leadership Transformations. More than 320 friends of LTI will gather to remember and give thanks…for the myriad ways God has blessed the work of our hands and the prayers of our hearts. To God alone belongs all the glory, honor, thanks and praise!