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Meditating or Day-dreaming: Which?

Last night I couldn’t sleep. The hour was late, or early (whatever you wish to call it). Though mentally tired, there wasn’t an ounce of sleep in my whole physical make up. No, I wasn’t worrying about anything–not last night. It was just a time for meditation, and I loved it! I loved it so much I wouldn’t have exchanged it for the sweetest slumber–at least, not until I had drunk my fill, of a wonderful meditation.

No, I wasn’t day-dreaming-not this time.

For there is a difference. Often we think that we might be meditating upon something while we are actually day-dreaming! “Day-dreaming” is simply dreaming in the day time, or in our waking hours. As in a dream the subconscious mind wanders at will, without control, so in our waking hours we often drop into a “trance” allowing our minds merely to wander. And how they wander!

Meditation, however, is deep thought, it is at least serious contemplation of or concentration upon some object or subject. Our thoughts do not wander, but very rigidly are controlled. Our meditation should be upon God’s precepts, the spiritual things, the Word of God, our relationship to God and our neighbor.

When we day-dream, we build air-castles, marvelous structures. We dream of new cars, of wonderful trips, of youth centers, and what not; and we are thrilled and exhilarated by the contemplation of pure earthly things, and delighted by the thought of carnal pleasures and treasures. – But when we meditate, truly meditate as spiritual children of God, then we tear down our air-castles, and despise ourselves because so often our only delight is in the carnal pleasures of this earth, and these things become for us rubbish and ruinous heaps, and dung-hills, when we consider the excellency of the treasures which are in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Day-dreaming, we imagine ourselves princes or kings in our own little kingdoms, priding ourselves in that little kingdom which we have built up. How proud we mortals be! But – meditating upon God’s precepts, and upon God, we soberly think: “what a damnable sinner I am, how helpless, how foolish, how ignorant; how I have despised God’s Word, how I have used my God-given possessions so wickedly; truly, I am a worm, and am at best nothing and less than nothing–vanity”.

Last night I was thinking: How carnal are we children of God in our life, how bound to all the earthly with all our thoughts and words. We get up in the morning, our minds are occupied with the work of the day. Perhaps we first pray, and perhaps not. Breakfast is so hurried, there is little if any time to read the Bible. We go off to work, and its work, work, work, from morning till night. Perhaps in our work we have been meditating a little upon God’s precepts, and very likely we did a great deal of day-dreaming. When we talked with our fellow-laborers, or with the neighbor lady next door it was about “land en zand”, as the Dutch expresses it. In the evening we read our newspapers, invite entertainers of all sorts into our home via the radio. Some of us, who are young and un-married, are afflicted with the sin of going out every evening – and regret that there aren’t eight evenings in a week – having lots of fun at the skating rink, bowling alleys, “Y’s”, football, basketball and tennis matches. Some ought-to-be-ashamed people have to be entertained at the movies because they have only four places to go a week – and what can a person do home a whole evening.

And yet, we must press toward the mark!

“If ye then be risen with Christ , seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God”, Col. 3:1.

Then our thoughts will be filled with the heavenly, with the things of His kingdom, with His glorious promises, with our responsibility to Him. For meditating does not merely tear down the air-castles of our day-dreaming, but it concentrates upon God’s ‘Castle’ which He has prepared for His own, and upon that heavenly life of perfection in that house with its many mansions. No, not “air-castles”, but the “heir-Castle” must be the object of our contemplation.

I like to think of that beautiful thought in I John 3:2: “but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him: for we shall see Him as He is”. How unlike Him we are here: we are only like Him in principle. How imperfect we mortals be! But then – ah, then, we shall be like Him!

“Meditate upon these things”, says Paul to Timothy (and to us). David says: “Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still”. Concerning the Book of the Law God said to Joshua: “thou shalt meditate therein day and night”.