Over the years, I’ve found that I’m prone to contemplate, and I’ve also learned that some people are not naturally introspectively oriented. Usually, major experiences (death of a loved one, major transition, etc.) may lead us to soul search – but I do think that quiet, introspection, and contemplation on who God is, what He has done, and what He is doing, is a very important part of our spiritual health. Sometimes it comes more naturally than other times, but it is a discipline as well as something I enjoy doing. Just because I enjoy doing it doesn’t mean that I’m always in the mood to do it. It takes intentionality.
Yesterday, I decided to head out and go for a hike. Some people don’t enjoy hiking – I love it though. It gives me a chance to be in nature, get some exercise, and think about life. I was thinking about hiking something moderate so I could take my time at it as I took breaks to pray, so I picked the trail loop system at Taylor’s Falls, MN. It’s about 4 miles. Before I started, I decided to journal some of the questions that I process when I hike alone.
The process that I set my mind to is what we see in the Bible as Siyach: to put forth, mediate, muse, commune, speak, complain, ponder, sing. We see it in Psalm 55:17; 119:15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148; Psalm 145:5; etc. (see definition for more references). This action is an intentional thing that we can do anywhere if we learn the discipline. Below is some of my process:
On the drive there, I decided not to listen to music. (Every once in a while a song came to my mind, though) An old song called “Hard to Get” (by Rich Mullins) got stuck in my head. I just let certain lyrics come into my head and stay there as I pondered them. As I drove, I thought about the metaphor of travel:
- Where are you coming from and where are you going?
- Who is in front of you, and who is behind you? (discipleship)
- What are you giving your energy to in life?
- What is the terrain of your life like right now? (i.e. steep climb, flat terrain in trees, rocky, etc.)
- Overlook: Can you see the big picture? What are some things that are ‘out there’ that you cannot see, but know are there? (Pray for perspective)
- Steep climbs: Where do you feel like giving up right now? (Pray for perseverance)
- What are the “front lines” that God has called you to (what are you returning to)?
- What is the memory (or Word that you feel the Lord spoke to you) that you will take from this retreat?