Signs of Life (and Lectio Divina)

July 17, 2010

Growth in the pavement cracks

Photo by kelsey6 (license)

You may not have noticed, but I had an unplanned absence from blog one another for nearly a month. Heck, it felt like I had an unplanned absence from life. Things have been tough, and my spiritual life sank along with the rest of me. I experienced multi-day depression, which was a new and scary experience. (Hats off to you ladies for going through it every month!)

But things are beginning to turn in the desert. Kay keeps telling me this, but I am finally beginning to believe it. The other day I told her, “I wish I cared again. I want to care — that is, I want to want to grow again, if that makes sense. …It’s a start, isn’t it?”

In Lectio Divina, the tables are turned: The Bible reads me.

I happened to receive an email today from my friend Dave Jacobs, who has a ministry called Small Church Pastor. The email was announcing a new resource for men’s discipleship, going over these five topics:

  1. Becoming a man of prayer
  2. Becoming a man of the word
  3. Becoming a man of humility
  4. Becoming a man of ministry
  5. Becoming a man who honors women

I felt moved just reading this outline! My thought was, “Well, my prayer life sucks. I’m not spending time in the word of God. My ministry is zilch.” But to my surprise, I actually felt motivated to do something, beginning with the first two. So before I started “doing” anything today (in particular, before my GTD weekly review), I grabbed The Message and holed up in my room for some Lectio Divina.

Lectio Divina is a way of meditating using the Bible. I’ve blogged about it before, but here’s a quick walkthrough of what I did today:

  1. I stilled myself. I welcomed the presence of God. I focused on my breathing, and did a simplified version of the Jesus Prayer, repeating the name of Jesus with each breath.
  2. I read a short passage of scripture, looking for the “shimmering phrase,” the words that pop out with special meaning.
  3. I meditated on the shimmering phrase. I considered it, and turned my considerations into prayers.
  4. I repeated this many times, re-reading the short passage, and meditating on the phrase. Each time, I thought I was done. But when I went back around again, there was still more.
  5. Finally, I simply sat in the presence of God, drinking in the experience, not rushing on.

The last part is hard to describe. I lay on my back, feeling… things that are hard to put into words… and saying, “I don’t want to leave yet. I just want to stay here with you.”

It was delicious.

As I have done before, I will share the substance of my meditation. But I will put it in a separate post, because it’s easy to think that Lectio is just a loose Bible study, and miss the practice of his presence. Evangelicalism puts a lot of emphasis on reading the Bible. But in Lectio, it’s as though the tables are turned: The Bible reads me.

I will share this much as a teaser: My reading got no farther than three words. And the “shimmering phrase” that popped out at me? It was a single word. Heck, it was a conjunction.

Jon Reid

Posts Twitter Google+

As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

14 responses to Signs of Life (and Lectio Divina)

  1. Love the pic. Perfect for this post.

  2. Glad you liked it, Helen. I was looking for something that expressed what I feel like.

  3. I have never done Lectio Divina as “personal” devotions, but I’ve done it in a small group setting, which is also powerful. As someone reads the passage out loud, we all underline the passage that shimmers for us. Then we go around the circle and share what we underlined. It’s fascinating to see how much can be packed into a single passage. Mining it this way offers an illustration of why Christianity is so much richer in community.
    Thanks for sharing your experience, Jon. I look forward to trying personal Lectio Divina myself!

  4. Whereas I have led it in a small group setting only once… we’re backwards! I like how your description illustrates the importance of community, and a practical way to live out 1 Corinthians 14:26.

  5. Jon, that is fantastic. I am going to try that method, I really like it. I know exactly what is meant by “shimmering phrase”, and I love the wording of that.
    I also like the idea of using that in a small group setting.

  6. Go for it, Sami! If you like explanations, a search for Lectio Divina will turn up a ton of information. But my outline should be enough to get you started. Don’t rush it, and don’t forget the last step. …Then let us know how it went. 🙂

  7. Though off topic, <remainder deleted>

  8. I am glad to hear from you. I was beginning to become concerned. Do not underestimate the power of being real in Jesus. It is the place where His living grace grows and flows in truth. Your blog is a blessed reminder and an encouragement. That is real ministry.

  9. Why, you’re right. It was off topic.

  10. David, thank you. It is good to know that even in my weakness, I have something to share. One of my early taglines for this blog was, “I’m just trying to follow Jesus and be real.”

  11. I was moved by the outline, too! Thanks for sharing it. Glad to know people are trying to move this direction (especially men). Me, too. If you just substitute “man” with “woman” and “women” with “people,” it works 🙂

  12. Katherine, I think guys need an extra dose of humility training. Of course, Jesus is the greatest example. We have a humble God!

  13. Jon
    Having just subscribed to you blog, I was amazed to see your words on Lectio Divina. We have been doing that in a group setting for the last 13 weeks as we study the book “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard J. Foster. It is was started by our Pastor at the first meeting. We have continued doing it, some only in group, but others of us on a personal level. It has opened my eyes to God’s word for me. Thank you for writing about it.

  14. Ron, very cool. Even when I don’t practice it thoroughly, it still affects the time I spend in the Bible. Everything used to be study-based for me. There’s nothing wrong with study (does Foster list it as one of the disciplines?) but I’ve come to love using the Bible as a starting point for meditation and conversational prayer.