Monday, March 8, 2010

Peace, please . . .

Cat Lake may well be the most peaceful place on Earth.

We can sit in the rockers on Mose’s front porch, enjoying the breeze and listening to the sounds of the lake. Redbirds forage in the yard; the surface of the lake winks at us. It’s the perfect place to visit . . . to pull aside from the tumult . . . but we can’t live here. What we can do, though, is come here on occasion to gird ourselves for our ongoing encounters with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

An interviewer once asked me about my life’s journey — if I had any regrets. My answer came straight from something I learned on Mose’s front porch. “Only when I choose to.”

And there you have it — an issue that has launched a myriad of books by respected philosophers, psychologists, and psychiatrists, succinctly covered in five words. Know why? Because I didn’t look to man for my answer.

Thoreau was right when he said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation . . .” You show me someone with white hair, and I’ll show you a person who has experienced pain because of poor choices — regrettable choices. I know this, in part, because I built too many poor choices into my past.

With that admission on the table, let me hasten to add that my needed focus is to learn from the past, not dwell on it. Choosing to give undue attention to past mistakes — which, as I said earlier, is a deliberate choice — epitomizes the poor use of my life — and paves the path to desperation. My time is best spent adapting myself to the words of one of my Wedgewood Grey characters: “Don’t waste today’s fuel on yesterday’s journey . . .”

And God agrees. In verses 6 through 9 of the fourth chapter of Philippians, He makes it clear that His peace is accessible to us, but only if we discipline ourselves to put aside anxious thoughts. He lists attributes that find their origin in Him when He says “whatever is true . . . honorable . . . right . . . pure . . . lovely . . . of good repute, if there is any excellence, if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” His book is replete with admonitions for us to put our yesterdays in their place and leave tomorrow in His capable hands. It’s rarely easy, but the payoff is better than anything offered outside His word . . . and that’s a promise.

You and I, because we’re His children, stand at the portal to God’s peace . . . it opens before us, beckoning. You and I, by anchoring our thought processes in His truths, can bask in the wealth of a life without self-recrimination. He would have us beat back the allure of the world, overcome our own flesh, and battle the forces of darkness by steeping ourselves in the things of Him.

Our gracious God knows you and I will have moments — or days, if we do not remain vigilant — when we will be assailed by stubborn recollection of actions and words best forgotten. He provided for those times in the words He gave to His servant David — to give to us.

From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee,

when my heart is overwhelmed:

lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 61:2 (KJV)

Every now and then, I'll post something about the books. Not today.



Debora said...

John, Your latest blog seems very introspective. You seem to be ruminating on things of the past that were not your best moments. We all have those items in our lives. If we think that we don't we are lying to ourselves! What matters is how we let those lessons that we learned effect our life choices now. I know that you are a Godly man, and I suppose that is what makes you be so hard on yourself. Debora

John Aubrey Anderson said...

Well, shoot, Debora. It looks like I might have to abandon fact and stick to fiction as my method of communicating truth.

Thoreau’s words regarding man’s plight resonate with me because of what I hear coming from the hearts of too many men. In “Peace,please . . .”, I was trying to sway people to come join those few who have broken the code.

Of my own heart? I’m at peace . . . not because I was wise in choices past, but because I can’t spill a drop of coffee without staining a verse that tells me to focus my heart on Him . . . certainly not on my past.

By His grace, the only yesterday over which I have any meager influence . . . is tomorrow’s.