Jesus warned us that in the last days, our devotion to the Lord will be under attack:
“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.’”
Matthew 24:3, 12-13 NASB
This is painfully illustrated by the parable of the ten virgins:
“Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’”
Matthew 25:5-8 NASB
Many times I have sought to know, in the face of such a danger, how am I to remain in fervent love for the Lord? How can I be sure to have oil in my lamp no matter how long He delays? As I look back on how the Lord has answered this year, one special word keeps coming up again and again: muse upon God’s works.
“I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate on all Your work And muse on Your deeds.”
Psalms 77:11-12 NASB
| myōōz | - be absorbed in thought, say to oneself in a thoughtful manner, gaze thoughtfully at
But Musing Doesn’t Feel Productive!
As I have interacted with the word muse in particular, and examined my own heart and conduct, the thing that has convicted me is that musing doesn’t feel very efficient, and for that reason, I am prone to neglect it. I am so productivity-minded in so many parts of my life that that mentality can creep into my time with the Lord, and I can be more attuned to finishing a certain number of chapters or books than in strengthening my connection with the Lord.
What a shame!
I was blessed to see an example from the Lord’s dealings with the Israelites that relates to this. In Joshua chapter 4, after miraculously delivering His people across a vast waterway on dry ground (for the second time!!), God commands them to stop and collect stones from the riverbed, to set up a memorial to the Lord. What struck me was, they were invaders in enemy territory! One might think, “Now is not the time for dilly dallying... let’s do LEGO projects later!!” But no, the Lord wanted them to do the inefficient-seeming work of remembering.
And it blessed me to consider that the Lord wasn’t nearly as interested in the Israelites rushing in to the promised land as He was in their being diligent to remember what He had done for them. And far from being a hindrance, remembering His work was how God intended to give them strength for the fights that lay ahead!
Is my lamp dying out? Is my oil running low? Muse on God’s work, even though it doesn’t feel productive!!!
“He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.’”
Revelation 3:1-3 NASB
What Should I Muse Upon?
As I’ve interacted with this word myself, three simple categories have come to my heart. They are by no means comprehensive, but it has blessed me to meditate upon each one.
What God did
What He has done
What He will do
What God did
“Although He existed in the form of God, Jesus did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Philippians 2:6-8 NASB
To think of Jesus Christ emptying Himself, humbling Himself to the point of a criminal’s death, is something I can never do enough. God is pleased to display His glory through Christ’s humiliation, and meditating on that humbling sheds fresh light and love into our hearts.
I should muse upon — be absorbed in, gaze thoughtfully at — Christ’s humility often.
What He has done
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”
Ephesians 2:4-5 NASB
“When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’”
Ezekiel 16:6 NASB
That second passage seems a little grotesque, but the Lord has spoken to me many times through it: “you were squirming in blood, like a helpless abandoned baby, when I intervened.” I was completely without hope, and He passed by, and in His kindness, brought me to life, and gave me hope.
And even more, He has walked with me so faithfully ever since, guiding me by His Spirit, and patiently enduring many stumbles and sins, welcoming me back every time I come to Him in Christ.
I should muse upon — be absorbed in, gaze thoughtfully at — God’s dealings with me often.
What He will do
“Those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;”
Romans 8:29 NASB
“He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”
2 Peter 1:4 NASB
It is so encouraging and faith-building to consider the many promises of God, to muse upon them and grab ahold of them afresh with fresh faith. So much more than my circumstance or merits, I have been learning more and more how I have to come on the basis of His goodness and promise alone (Psalm 25:6-7, Daniel 9:18-19).
I should muse upon — be absorbed in, gaze thoughtfully at — God’s promises to and purpose for me often.
A Warning About Distractions
In English, we often express the opposite of a word by adding an “a-” to the beginning of it. So for example, if something is not typical, you might say it’s “atypical.” It’s the same with musing.
In my own walk with the Lord, I have found that one of the greatest enemies of musing on the Lord’s deeds is the various amusements that are available to me. Social media, breaking news, sports scores, political issues, etc. While none of these things are bad in and of themselves, I’ve discovered I have to practice moderation so that I’m not entangled in the things of this world.
“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.”
2 Timothy 2:4 NASB
The parable of the soils warns us of this very danger: “(The third soil represents...) the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
Mark 4:18-19 NASB
This soil that used to be fruitful — this lamp that used to be burning, this flask that used to be full of oil — is now being choked by the desires for other things. Not bad things, necessarily, just other things. We are commanded in Hebrews 12 to lay aside not only sins, but also encumbrances, and I have noticed how easy it is to become absorbed in various interests to the point of encumbrance. And so the Lord has been gently reminding me to guard against indulging in too many a-musements, as they can prevent me from musing on His work.
But I’ve actually been blessed by these things, as this conviction has given me the strength to turn some of those automatic processes (got 5 random minutes? Check Facebook!) into micro-musing moments. And the irony is, I’ve been delivered from many distractions that are actually unproductive, and have been given an incredibly spiritually enriching alternative in their place.