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 in the Bible or anywhere else. 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 in Italian as ‘mulinare’. To my delight I found that there was, and that it means ‘brandish, spin or twirl,’ and figuratively ‘to ponder or to ruminate’. I felt as though I had made a ‘virtual’ friend and promptly coined the word ‘mullinating’ in order to describe this pondering process.
If we can learn to look on ‘down times’ as something to be welcomed and embraced, we are preparing the way for fresh adventures. Our first requirement is ever to give ourselves permission to do this . . .
The God-ward Gaze
A salesman asked an old fisherman in a snow-bound hamlet what he did with himself evenings. The reply was: “Oh, sometimes I sit and think, and then again I just sit.”(1)
To many people such an attitude would appear overwhelmingly tedious. Not so for those who have learnt to contemplate the Lord. The German word for boring, langweilig, is made up of two words: lange (long) and weile (while). What I had not realised is that the original root for that second word meant ‘rest’, or ‘pause’. Let’s celebrate the value of these ‘lange weiles’ – and use them to bring about that rest in our spirit that makes it easy to sit with Jesus, and to receive His direction. He welcomes our advances! If the cost involves having to face things we have been putting off or attempting to bury, in the long run that is all for the good!
Another old man who used to spend long period of time each day in church. When his friends asked him what hew 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, “I’m not asking God for anything.” “Well,” they said. “What are you doing then, all those hours in church?” And the old man replied, “I just sit and look at God. And God sits and looks at me.”(2)
Prayer is about so much more than just asking for things, important though that is. Words are by no means always needed. What does matter is “God awareness.”
Rather than always being driven by some dopamine-fuelled rush for something comforting or exciting, let’s make and welcome opportunities to reflect and think, always allowing the Holy Spirit to direct and ‘filter’ everything. He has so much to show us as we become more attentive in spirit to the things that we see, hear and feel, and as we allow Him to unpack His meaning in and through them.
What a need there is to pass this gift of mullinating on to the next generation! So many young people are so scared of being on their own, or of being bored that they will turn to to alleviate it, and to fill every moment with sound, movement and action. Parents, grandparents, how can we help our children to learn to value these times?
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit . . . (Matt. 4:1)
Be alert to His leading, who to visit; to sense when it is time to leave what you are doing; which book to read; which TV channel to watch, who to contact, what to do. Catch each breath of His Spirt-wind that He sends our way. It is wonderful to be led by the Spirit!
Deliberately linger longer in the places where you encounter Jesus regularly; your favourite parts of your home that you have specially set apart to seek Him in; the outdoor spaces that you love to tryst with Him in; churches that are specially full of His prayerful presence . . .
Resting in God leads not just to physical refreshment, but to seeing, hearing and interpreting matters more clearly – which in turn leads to more inspired and anointed actions. So far from being the self-indulgent times we might initially suppose them to be, ‘mullinating’ often proves rich in terms of gaining insight and discernment as well as much needed refreshment. Keep a notebook handy and record ideas insights and promptings as they come. You may well be glad to revisit and take these up another time – years later even!
Come and mullinate now a ‘lange weile’. Perhaps there are greater depths of mulling you are less familiar with just waiting for Him to show you.
Or you might prefer the music only version: