Our whole lives we are trained filter information. More and more information is thrown at us each day and it would be absolutely impossible to process and dwell on all of it. So we are constantly searching for what is important and throwing out the rest. This is especially true in the school setting. A professor will sit up front and spew hours and hours of information at you. You are forced to try to grab hold of what is most important and naturally forget the rest. Also, when you are reading material, there is way way too much information for you to process it all, so we try to search for what’s most important, scanning, speed-reading or use cliff-notes.
We have all been in school for over twelve years. It has been deeply ingrained in is to process information like this. It is almost subconscious to filter as we listen and read. I would argue that almost every time we listen to someone speak or read something this happens. We search for what are they really trying to say? What is the Cliff Notes version? What’s the point?
All this filtering and overloading of information is hard work. It takes lots of energy to listen closely and process information. It’s no wonder we often dreed school, work, meetings, studying. Before we begin, we are anticipating being overwhelmed.
The understanding of how our education system and culture has trained us to process information is important. I was thinking about it last year and around Christmas time I had a revelation that was so so simple yet oddly profound. Jesus was born in an empty womb. Simple, obvious right? We all know that Jesus didn’t enter a womb with twins already hanging out in it. It may sound dumb, but it really struck me that if Mary had something in her womb, Jesus would never have been born. Jesus found an empty space and he filled it.
I then began to think about my life. We all want to touch, feel, experience Jesus. Maybe more than anything in the world. Yet, all the times I have designed to spend with him are usually full. I look ahead to a meeting and am already (even if it is subconscious) thinking about what am I getting out of it, what will I need to learn, what do I expect to hear. And the second I show up, I turn on the filter, searching for what is most important, or just wait for the meeting to be done so I can check the box on my to do list.
But what if we looked at meetings as wombs? Yes, a womb. An empty block of time carved out in our week where we expect Jesus to show up. What if instead of picturing a hour block of “meeting, listening, filtering” we pictured an empty space in which the Lord will arrive and fill.
Since last Christmas, I have been thinking about this visual image and trying to retrain my mind to come to meetings, Bible studies, conversations, the Bible, and work as an empty space which God can fill, instead of anticipating what I’m going to be doing/learning there and then getting ready to filter the rest.
I tried this with scripture. Instead of reading it to get three main points, I carved out thirty minutes and just read words. I was reading John 18 about Peter denying Christ. It was a story I had read a million times and I fought to just skim the words since I had been taught the “main point” million times before. Yet, when I stop just looking for the main point I noticed something I have never noticed before. Verse 18, which I probably skimmed over it a million times, says: “It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.” Pointless right? Wrong. What this line did was put a picture in my mind. Peter stood by a fire and warmed himself. The night he betrayed Jesus, it was cold and Peter had to warm himself by a fire. We sometimes read these stories thinking these people were different then ourselves, but they get cold and have to stand by a fire to warm themselves. Peter was human. He was just a man as you and I.
That was the point the Lord wanted me to be reminded of that day, that the stories in the Bible are about real people, just like you and me. I didn’t need to hear the main point again, but just to understand in a new way that Peter was just like me.
Wombs. Empty spaces. What would happen if you approach your next Bible study, leadership meeting, conversation, or quit time as an empty space, with your mind stilled and emptied?
Maybe all you would notice at the meeting would be a genuine hello and smile when you arrived. Instead of filtering, you might be able to dwell on the truth you are deeply loved and cared about. Maybe in quiet time you might see a small word you never noticed before or in a conversation hear what the other person wasn’t saying. There is so much we are trained to miss.
Picture our days as series of empty spaces, spaces the Lord desires to fill. Still your mind, and watch as Jesus fills those spaces. You experience what we are all craving. You experience our God.
Written by Annika L.