It’s simply amazing the things that stick in your mind over the years—and the things that don’t stick.
I can remember jokes, funny stories, and even humorous poems for a long time. Algebra, what little that even traveled a tiny distance into my brain, disappeared like fog before a bright morning sun. So total was this disappearance that few traces can be found that it had ever been there. (x+y to the power of 6? Get out of here!)
Here’s a poem that I remember from nearly 50 years ago, though:
“The gum chewing student and the cud chewing cow
look quite alike, but they’re different somehow.
What is the difference? Oh! I see it now…
It’s the intelligent look on the face of the cow.”
Kind of moves you doesn’t it? I don’t know who wrote that but he’s up there with Browning and Longfellow.
You know, it is true. That old heifer, lying in the shade, looks like she’s deeply reflecting on something. She’s probably smarter than most of us today because, for the most part, we take in a deluge of information, but take little time to think it through. To meditate about life if you will (this meditation is completely different than sitting on the floor and chanting, “ummmmm” in c flat)
So, we’ve got shallow opinions based on the last article we read or the opinion of someone we love or respect, or who simply seems impressive.
We need to resemble ‘Old Bossy’. First our cow friend eats her grass, then, (those of you with a weak stomach might want to check out for a minute), then she regurgitates it and chews it again, thoroughly.
Actually, that’s a formula for spiritual growth. Read God’s Word, hear it preached but then chew on it. Think about it. Worry out a morsel that meets a need in your life.
Jesus made a difference between those who simply listened to His Word and those who dug in. That’s why He often spoke in parables. He wanted to challenge hungry people to meditate, think, reflect and extract the heart of His Word, instead of gliding on the surface. (Matthew 13:10-17)
God whispers secrets to those who are paying attention. He doesn’t waste His breath on hard-hearted people.
Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning said, “Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common brush afire with God, But only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.” Too, often, we’ve got a world full of blackberry pickers instead of people who think.
The Word of God either makes you rich or poor. When I hear the Word and react with joy and hunger, with a heart that wants to learn, I grow. The more I grow, the hungrier my heart gets and I grow some more.
If I don’t pay attention to the Word though, my heart hardens each time I hear it. That’s what God meant when He said to Isaiah: “And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.’ Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing.” (Isa. 6:9, 10 New Living Version)
Hey, here’s the key to growth: listening, hearing and turning so that God can change us. Meditate like this and we’ll develop sensitivity to God’s Spirit that He will change us.
If we reject or ignore God’s Word, our heart gets harder and harder. In that case, coming to church might be bad for religious people. Instead of receiving the Word, they hear it but it bounces off like rain on hard-packed clay. They think that by showing up and hearing the “noise” of the Word, they’re pleasing God. The Lord demands that we let in get into our heart and do something with what we hear. Otherwise we’ll suffer from hardening of the spiritual arteries.
You can die spiritually from that.
How’s your hearing and responding? Ask God for a heart that’s sensitive to His Spirit. Ask Him for the power and the courage to change, even when you don’t want to. That’s how you grow. Chew on what you hear (it’s also called meditating).
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8, NIV)
“Blessed is the one …whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. (Ps. 1:1, 2, NIV)
So for those hungry-hearted people who want to grow in the Lord—happy chewing!
“You’ll never know who you are until you know who He is.” Erwin McManess