Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.” (Deut. 33:12)
No need to go reaching for a dictionary: you won’t find ‘mullinating!’ I was looking for a word that would embrace the concept of mulling, musing, marinating, and meditating, so I checked out to see if there was such a word as ‘mulinare’ in Italian. To my delight, I found that there was, and that it means ‘to brandish, spin or twirl’ – and figuratively, ‘to ponder or to ruminate’. So I promptly coined ‘mullinating’ to describe the precious process of pondering the meaning of things!
As ever the first thing we need to do is give ourselves permission to take the time to ‘mullinate.’ But I have found, as I am sure you will have done, that it is often in the course of such ‘down times’ (as opposed to times of feeling down!) that the Lord sows really helpful seeds and insights.
Sometimes I sit and think . . .
A salesman asked an old fisherman in a snow-bound hamlet what he did with his evenings. He replied, “Oh, sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit.”(1)
When friends asked another old man who used to spend long periods of time every day in church what he was doing he replied, “I’m praying.” “You must have a great many things you want to ask from God then!” The old man smiled and replied with some warmth of feeling, “Oh, I’m not asking God for anything. I just sit and look at God. And God sits and looks at me.”(2)
Important though petition is, prayer is about so much more than just ‘asking.’ God-awareness can be still more important than words.
For many, the idea of ‘sitting’ with the Lord might seem tedious, boring and even self-indulgent when He has prepared so many works for us to do. Those who have learnt to contemplate the Lord however, will soon tell you how rich it is to do this. Jesus honoured Mary of Bethany when she chose to sit at His feet instead of rushing to help with the housework.
In English, the use of the word ‘boring’ in the sense of being dull and wearying is relatively recent. By contrast, the German word for ‘boring,’ ‘langweilig,’ is made up of two words: lange (long) and weile (while) – with the original root for the latter meaning ‘rest’, or ‘pause’. I like the idea of putting these ‘long whiles’ to good use – not least for bringing our spirit to rest by sitting with Jesus, where there is every chance of meeting with Him and receiving His direction.
It will often be during these quieter moments that things come to mind that we have deliberately chosen not to face. This may or may not not be the right time to attend to them – but be alert to His call so that He can invite you to bring them to Him, sure the knowledge that He is faithful and true to attend to the things we have specifically committed to Him. (Prov. 16:3) We will often be surprised by what He does, and by His perspective on matters!
So, rather than rushing to fill every ‘long while’ in our life with yet another dopamine rush, or with something comforting or exciting, let’s ask the Lord to help us find ways to value these times – and to make the very most of the rest in our spirits that comes from sitting with Jesus.
Imbibe and pass on the mullinated wine!
It was a delight the other day to spend a couple of hours sitting with a young man from Fiji who just could not have been more eager to drink in the word of God. May the Lord lead us to find ways to pass on this gift of mullinating to a generation that is so often reluctant to spend almost any time alone. Not every moment needs to be filled with sound, movement and action – but what can we as parents, grandparents and mentors do to help people to value and make good use of these times?
As always, it must start with us. Come and mullinate now – a ‘lange weile’ – and that in the sense of ‘for a long while’ rather than a ‘boring’ while! God has so much to show us. Keep a notebook handy, to record ideas insights and promptings as they come. You may well be glad to revisit and take these up another time, even years later. We will soon discover that resting in the Lord is anything but the self-indulgent things we may at first be inclined to view it as.
Jesus, You have so much meaning and insight to share with us concerning the things that we see, hear and feel as we make opportunities to ‘mullinate’. Direct and filter our reflections through Your Spirit. May we be alert to catch each breath of Your leading as to who we should get in touch with; when it is time to attend to something; which book to read or TV channel to watch and what to do.
I love being led by Your Spirit, Lord! Help me to linger longer in the ‘trysting’ places that You have led me, to, and where I am learning to meet with you regularly – whether these be a favourite chair, a favoured outdoor spot or a church that is especially full of Your prayerful presence . . .
Or you might prefer the music only version: