On the very last page of my Bible, I am slowly developing a list of questions—mostly ones that I come across in my reading, but some which come about through reflecting. I call these ‘heart questions;’ they are ones which I ask to my heart, in a very broad sense, ‘how am I going at this area of life?’ I also use it as a method to remember things I have been struck or convicted by in past reading to ensure I continue to focus on and invest in pursuing Christ and growing in His likeness. They are not questions based on spiritual disciplines (e.g. ‘How have I been going at reading my Bible?’ ‘Am I praying every day?’), but are rather the practical, fruitful outworking of these things; they are an indication of being in a posture allowing the transformation of the Holy Spirit. This might be something along the lines of, “Am I aware of God’s peace in my day to day life?” “Does my life demonstrate to others that I have complete trust in God,” etc. As I was spending time with God recently, I came across another of these questions to add to my list, and thought that putting together such a list could also be helpful for others as a reference to prompt prayer or reflection, or for considering ways to be growing in greater obedience to God. I will compile them into a page (which you can access from the home page), and plan to include a link to the short post I write about them when they are first added to provide a bit more context to the questions.
When writing one of my earliest posts (‘Mary’s Song’) I realised that there was the potential to open a ‘can of worms’ in bringing up the concept of being joyful at all times and rejoicing even in times of suffering. So I felt it was appropriate to follow up with a post addressing this (somewhat). I quite recently read the book of 1 Peter, which is a great starting place for finding what God’s Word says about not only rejoicing in our suffering, but the practical out-workings of this.
In my very first year of med school, one of our first assignments was to write an academic essay on reflective essays. I don’t know who first thought this was a good idea, but I recall it as a pretty awful time. However, since then, I have become aware of the importance of reflection as a discipline of spiritual growth, or any sort of growth, and ironically it has caused me to reflect a fair bit on reflection itself. In a recent post in the series on being in a ‘reading rut’, I wrote a post focussed on meditating, which is the active reflection on God’s Word. In this post, I am looking at reflection in a broader sense; reflecting on situations, relationships, ideas and concepts; the process of thinking deeply and mentally working things out, contemplating things of importance. In this sense, reflection is not something that comes particularly naturally to me; my brain doesn’t float to thinking through important and meaningful topics, unless they seem to be having a prominent emotional impact on me and I can’t help but dwell on them. My train of thought seems to have many stations it stops at, and changes route frequently. And in addition, I am often unaware of the reflective process that has taken place when I reach conclusions about things.
This article is the final of this series on the Reading Rut, and actually the inspiration for the whole series in the first place. Of course there is a myriad of resources out there, so this is just a snapshot of things I have found helpful – so I encourage you to try them out, and I hope that they might be as good for you as they have for me. However if you find they are not for you, I also encourage you to look for something that is! Over the last few years I have discovered the importance of finding a routine and resources that works for you. My husband reads commentaries – he buys the top 3 on each book of the Bible, reads the entire thing making notes, and sits and reflects upon it. This method just isn’t for me – as much as I am so glad that he does it because it means the devotionals he runs for us are so knowledgeable and in-depth – and similarly, what I recommend here may not work for you.
REFLECTING ON GOD’S WORD
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.” (Psalm 1:1-4) [emphasis mine]