Digesting God’s Word

Had we not just finished a huge lunch at Tejano’s, the local Mexican restaurant, sitting on the drive listening to the cows eructate might not have been so funny. As my young helper Beau and I were just gearing up to do some more fencing, he asked, “Why do cows lay around and chew so much?” A valid question I thought. My response, “They’re chewing their cud. It’s their way of meditating with God.”

He laughed as he responded, “How can sitting around burping be spiritual?” I smiled, realizing that afternoon’s work was going to be delayed.

Beau is a great young man; and always willing to help me out around the Cross-Dubya. Growing up in the city (8,000 folks is a fair-sized city in these parts), he doesn’t have a lot of inherent knowledge of livestock. Intelligent and willing to learn, my investment in teaching him will pay great dividends in his future.

I removed my gloves and asked “Do you know why cattle are called ruminants?”

He responded, “They eat grass and hay.”

“Good guess, but not all hooved animals that eat grass are ruminant animals. For example, horses have hooves and eat grass and hay just like cows, but they’re not ruminants.” Giving me a confused look, I explained to him, “More than being even-hooved grass eaters; a ruminant animal is defined by how they digest their food.” I then explained how cattle, deer, antelope, sheep, and other ruminants have a complex, multi-compartmented stomach. This allows them to get the maximum possible nutrition from the grass. I further explained the importance of eructation and the cud-chewing process for those animals.

Beau nodded his understanding; and I knew it was time for the spiritual lesson. “Take Yolanda there Beau. You see how she’s moving her mouth back and forth?”

“Sure. She’s chewing her cud!” He smiled

“That’s right, but have you ever wondered what else is going on beyond chewing that fibrous, old, partially digested grass?” That brought another quizzical look from my young friend; and I went on with the lesson.

“Have you ever considered that God made ruminant animals to teach us how to study His word buddy?”

With that funny look he gets when searching for an answer; he responds, “Do you mean we should take a long time to digest it?”; asking as much as answering.

I shout “Bingo!” and Beau smiles. Thinking to myself He’s getting it; and that brings a smile of my own. I went on to explain that meditation is the best way I know to get the most out of God’s word. Most of us will read a referenced scripture in a devotional and move on. Few actually open their Bible each day to read the word of God. Even fewer, then take the next step to search for deeper understanding.

Beau asks; “How do we do that?”

“That’s exactly the right question to ask Beau-man.” Smiling, I shared one of my favorite verses from the Bible. “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11, NKJV)

I explained that what this means to me is I can’t know all that God knows. I can’t understand how God thinks, or why God does what He does. Beau responded with, “Like Isaiah 55, eight and nine?”

Nodding my head, I was proud to see my young friend had learned from lessons in the past. “Exactly Beau. That’s why God’s word is so amazing. In all the years I’ve been reading and studying it, I’ve read the same passage (in some cases) hundreds of times. The remarkable thing is that I’m always finding something new in it. God’s word is like a never-ending story, in that the Holy Spirit reveals more about it the more time you spend in it.”

“So, as we’re sitting here watching the cows chew their cud, maybe their laying there contemplating life. Or perhaps, and we can’t know what a cow is thinking any more than we can know what our wife or girlfriend is, they’re meditating on God. After all, He’s their Creator also.” I watched his reaction to see if my young friend understood what I was trying to share.

Showing a genuine interest, Beau asks; “How do you do that? How do you meditate?” Another great question. I paused before answering; not because I didn’t have an answer, but because I wanted to silently ask God to guide me in what I was about to share.

“Meditation takes many different forms; you have to try different things until you find what best works for you. For me, there’s several ways. It’s just like eating a meal; the two keys are preparation and digestion. It’s what you do before and after the meal that matters.”

Meditating on God’s word allows you to gain the maximum spiritual nutrition from it. Click To Tweet

I posed this question; “If you fill up on junk food and snacks before supper, you won’t each as much will you?” With his negative response, I suggested that the best way to ingest God’s word is to be hungry for it. I explained, “If you wait to read the Bible until after you’ve checked your social media pages, read the newspaper, or watched the morning news, you’ve already started filling your heart and mind with worldly things. With all the negative junk that pollutes our souls.” So I make reading God’s word one of my top priorities each morning.”

“After coffee, right?”; he added with a smile. I laughed as my helper has showed up at 7:00 AM to find me with a cup of coffee in hand as I step outside to start our workday.

“The next thing I do before studying God’s word is to pray for His help to understand it; and for the Holy Spirit to show me what I’m supposed to learn from it.”

Beau enthusiastically added, “Like Paul said in First Corinthians?”

“Right… ”, I said with a smile. I explained that once I’ve prepared myself to study God’s word, I set my plate at the altar of God; asking Him to fill it with what I need that day. I added that I never know what I need exactly, but I’m learning to trust God to give me what I need.

My buddy then asks, “So where does the meditating part come in? When do you chew on God’s word?”

“Well”, I respond, “that’s the digestion part of meditation. After we feast on God’s word, we may be full, but we don’t get the greatest value from it until after we digest it.” I likened it back to the cattle. They initially eat, but then it takes up to three days for the food to pass through their digestive system. During this time, they’ll chew their cud several times to continue breaking down the material so more nutrients are released into their body.

I described some of the ways I meditate on God’s word throughout the day, and sometimes weeks or months, until I’ve gotten the maximum amount of goodness from it I can get. Some of those ways are prayer, further study and research, or simply making quiet time to let the Holy Spirit speak to my heart while I think about what I’ve read. Patting my young friend’s knee, I told him “We should remember that the more we transmit, the less we can receive.” My goal was to remind him how important listening is to learning.

As my largest Hereford, Ms. Lynn, released a loud belch, Beau chimed “That must’ve been a good lesson!” We laughed as I started the UTV. It was time to get that fencing done. As we drove along the fence line, I silently prayed that God would bless the time I spent with this young man and He would help him learn to better digest God’s word in his life.

It never ceases to amaze me how God can teach us valuable life lessons using the most mundane things found in His world; even a cow’s digestive process. Click To Tweet

I pray you ask God to show you how to get more from His word each day.

God’s blessings,

Please join me each Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.

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46 thoughts on “Digesting God’s Word

  1. Always new insights for us to “chew on”. I’ll never look at a cow chewing on its cud again without asking myself if I have taken time to meditate on what God is teaching me. Thank you.

  2. What a great story with wonderful imagery to go right along with it, J. D. Yes, as Marilyn noted, you’ve given us much food for thought, and something to “chew on” with a new and fresh appreciation for the richness of God’s Word.
    Blessings, my friend!

  3. “God’s word is like a never-ending story” – RICH – let me chew on that a while! JD, I am proud of your for your mentorship – investing spiritually in the lives of others. A good example for us all to follow

  4. J.D., I always learn from your posts, this time some new words and the intricacies of cattle digestion. I marvel at the way you see faith applications all over everyday life and particularly love this one. We need to get God’s Word inside of us, not just the ‘stories’, but the meaning for our lives. Love this post my friend.

    1. I hope you’re right Ms. Karen. Our legacy is lived out through the lives of those we’ve impacted (both good and bad). I pray I’ll make more good impacts than bad ma’am. Sure glad God doesn’t keep score.

  5. I love your insights, J.D. Not to go against the context, but I sometimes say worry is like a cow chewing its cud. So I guess meditating is the same concept. It just a matter of what we are “ruminating on.”

    1. What a valid point Ms. Kathy. We can chew on worries and fears much longer than we do God’s word I think my friend. At least that seems to be my history. 🙂 Great perspective ma’am; thank you so much.

  6. I haven’t forgotten, that as a child, I asked my older brother why cows lay around and chew. He explained about “cud” and the complicated digestive system, but never used the term “ruminant.” Thanks for the lesson, J.D. Now to the real point–yes, we also need to “chew” on God’s word, meditate on it, take time to digest it and then apply it to our daily lives. Thank you for your inspiring message, my friend.

    1. Sounds like a pretty smart brother there Ms. Katherine. I wish I had learned so much more when I was younger. Things like learning to meditate on God’s word, and how much that can help us, sure would have made this journey a bit easier I think. So glad you enjoyed ma’am.

  7. A practice in the field of of education is having students “reflect” about new learning. Reflection – whether by group discussions, writing about it, or by thinking about it – reinforces the new learning and it’s application. I think meditating on Gods word does the same.

    Thanks for taking the time to help Beau understand something significant.

    1. What a great way to look at meditation Ms. Candyce. We’re reflecting upon what God is teaching us when we meditate on His word. I love that. Reflecting upon His word is a way to cement the lessons He’s teaching. Thank you for contributing to our conversation ma’am.

  8. Love it, my friend. I lived with cattle the early part of my life so I understand exactly what you are talking about. But I had never thought of us digesting the Word the way you stated. You are right on, and it is an interesting analogy. Appreciate your wisdom, I plan to come and have lunch and a visit with you in the next few weeks. We can agree on a good time.

    1. Thank you Mr. Roger. I would love to have you come visit one day sir; what a treat (for me) that would be to be able to spend time and fellowship with you. If you want, plan to spend the night so we’re not rushed. I’ll make something Italian for supper. 🙂

    1. I sure will Ms. Barbara. Gave them extra rations last evening (cold night here and calving season should start any day). Told ’em it was compliments of Ms. Barb. 😀 They mooed their appreciation.

  9. What an inspiring message! The more I read the Word of God, the more I learn. Each time I read a passage, something new is gleaned. I needed your words today, to remind me the importance of reading His Word every day. Thank you.

  10. Haha. I love it! That is such a good picture of how we should meditate on God’s word, day and night. And wasn’t the Lord sweet to give you Beau to draw out that good picture? What timing. and I’m sure he went away to meditated on your words as well.
    Thanks so much JD.

  11. Love your lessons from the ranch. While I knew cows chewed their cud and they have compartments in their stomachs, I didn’t know the real definition of ruminant animals. Another great analogy to our lives in Christ!

  12. Well, I learned a little more about cows, J.D. I always love the spiritual spin. This especially spoke to me:
    ” “If you wait to read the Bible until after you’ve checked your social media pages, read the newspaper, or watched the morning news, you’ve already started filling your heart and mind with worldly things. With all the negative junk that pollutes our souls.”

    1. Thank you Ms. Beckie. Appreciate the kind words ma’am. And yes, I agree that it’s much better to start our days with a focus on God and not this fallen world. The more of Him we ingest, the less room there is for all the bad stuff to pollute our lives. I suggest several small “prayer and praise snacks” throughout the day too. 😀 God’s blessings gentle friend.

  13. I loved this, J.D. Most folks don’t really savor their food, much less the Word of God, so your lovely cows are a good example to us all around. An older gentleman once tried to tell me that a verse is meant to say one thing and one thing only. He was closed to the idea that the depths of meaning in scripture can spiral in many layers. How sad. You’ve given us much truth to chew on in your lesson this week. That young man has a good mentor.

    1. Thank you Ms. Dottie. I hope the young man thinks so too. Sometimes, I think he just wants to be nice to the “old fool”, but I know he’s got a wonderful, godly heart. I just hope I don’t “mess up” most days. 🙂 As for the gentlemen you mention with the somewhat narrow-mind; I’ll be praying too. I would want to agree that it may very well mean just one thing, but to understand the enormity and depth of that one thing is probably beyond man’s ability to comprehend. Sometimes we don’t see the forest because we’re too focused on the tree.

  14. What you mentioned about devotionals is why I don’t read as many these days (blog posts and some devotionals are different) – the authors have good intentions, but I relied too much on their interpretation of a verse. I have not quit all devotionals, but I try to be mindful of who I am listening to more: the author or the Scripture. This is also why I don’t care for an extremely popular book that many of my Christian friends, and a couple of family members, rave about. (I will tell you the title privately if you want, although I hope to not offend you if you like it.)

    1. Appreciate your comments Ms. Robin. Please note that I didn’t say devotional reading was “bad”. Devotionals, of which I write a good many, are most certainly one way to consume God’s word (usually in small doses). Many of them help others expand their understanding of God’s word and find ways to apply it to their lives. Of course, that understanding is from the perspective of the author. As with sermons, Bible studies, articles, and hearsay (what others tell you), we should ALWAYS validate them against the word of God. I’ve seen cases (almost certain all were honest mistakes) where incorrect scripture references were given or other human mistakes were made in all of these things. It happens. So, all that to say “Trust God’s word over everything else you read. Use it as the standard by which you measure.” Of course, to do that, we have to read it and know it. 🙂 As for the popular book; I don’t need to know ma’am, and I doubt you could ever offend me. We each have our preferences, likes and dislikes; and that’s okay. I do want to encourage all of us to try and spend more time in God’s word and let Him do the work He has planned for us in our lives. Meditating on His word is a great way to do that. God’s blessings sweet girl.

    1. Aww shucks! Thank you Ms. LuAnn. If I caused you to pause, think, and consider something about your walk with God, then I’m thrilled and blessed to have been used by God ma’am.

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