Peace-Stealers & Other Lenten Obstacles
It took me a while to finalize my list of things I'm giving up for Lent, but when I did, I felt pretty good about it.
The number one thing on my list was to give up watching and/or listening to the news on cable TV, regular TV, satellite radio, terrestrial radio... I figured I could live without being over-informed for a few weeks. I felt a sense of peace wash over me at the thought of being news-free for forty days.
But then a friend sent me a link to an article on the web about something or another in the news, and of course I clicked on it. And then there was a link in that article to another news article, and so naturally, I clicked on it.
I found myself getting agitated, and felt my peace subsiding as I read. The more I clicked and read, the more anxious and angry I became. I think I actually muttered things under my breath even though there wasn't another soul in the room.
Then it hit me. I hadn't gone far enough in my Lenten discipline, and because I hadn't, I was allowing my thoughts to be hijacked, and directed away from God. And the result of this hijacking was the theft of my peace and joy.
I read this bit of wisdom from the ancient Stoic philosopher Epictetus this morning:
"If a person gave away your body to some passerby, you'd be furious. Yet you hand over your mind to anyone who comes along so that they may abuse you, leaving it disturbed and troubled--have you no shame in that?"
When we "hand over" our minds to things that are not beautiful, purposeful and true, we allow our joy and peace to be stolen. And there is no end to the number of thieves in our culture who want to steal our joy and peace.
By contrast, in John 10:10 Jesus told his followers, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
If we are to experience the fullness of life in Christ during this season of Lent, we need to be vigilant in keeping our minds fixed and focused on Him. When we do, we will experience true peace and the abundant life Jesus want us to live.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.