On a perilous voyage to find the
seven friends of King Caspian’s father, the Dawn Treader
anchors in the remote Island of the Duffers. Entering a magician’s
house, Lucy finds herself unable to resist the temptation to perform
the spells she reads about in a book. One of these enables her to
overhear a conversation back home in England. This turns out to be
anything but a blessing, for she overhears a so-called friend siding
with another girl in speaking against her. Aslan tells Lucy in no
uncertain terms that she has no business to be prying in this way,
but urges her not to think too harshly of the girl: she was acting
under peer pressure and did not really mean what she had said.19
We need such reminders to respect proper boundaries. Why waste time
asking questions that we can, for the moment, find no answer for?
Once we allow house room to the “but what ifs” and the “if onlys,”
we soon risk their faith-deadening refrains drearifying our hearts.
It is so easy in the aftermath of loss to go over and over events,
wondering if things would have worked out differently if only
certain events had not happened, and we had not acted as we did. To
be sure, we may not always have acted wisely, but the beauty of the
Lord’s dealings with us is that He takes us as we are, and leads us
on from there.
A change of environment can do wonders to keep us from too much
brooding. So too can worship. We have seen that under the anointing
of the Holy Spirit, music can touch parts of our inmost being that
words alone cannot reach. Put on a CD and lift your heart in praise
– it is a wonderful antidote for fear and doubt.
As surely as we must often make the effort to “switch channels” when
our minds become stuck, I hope you will forgive me for mentioning
the “electronic companions” that we pass so many hours in front of.
We are blessed to have access to such an impressive range of dramas,
sports, music, news and documentaries, but we are wise to keep this
far from insignificant portion of our lives under the Lord’s
Idle channel flipping, like endless hours playing computer games, or
shopping and surfing on the Net has the potential to isolate as well
as to “connect” us, and to distract us from getting on with the hard
work that alone can accomplish our real hopes and dreams.
In our “reduced-through-grief” state, most of us are happy to use
television as a “pacifier” at times. The danger comes if we fall
into the way of thinking that its tightly crafted dramas are where
the real action is taking place. That is when people start
living out their hopes and dreams vicariously through the fictitious
dilemmas that the soaps portray.
At the very least, it is wise to check whether the Lord is happy for
us to watch particular programmes. The more we reduce our dependency
on television, and from spending unnecessary hours at the computer
terminal, the more time and energy we will have for Kingdom business
– which itself is a wonderful antidote for dispersing the pangs of
||“God has given us two
hands,” Billy Graham reminds us, “one to receive with and
the other to give with.” Ring a friend and arrange to do
something together. Reach out and perform some kindness for
someone. The Kingdom consists of many small acts, which Love
expands and multiplies.
Since grief is not a time to
absorb negativity, if it is at all possible, make sure that
you spend quality time with people whose words and attitudes
build you up and encourage you. Life is not just for
television stars, or for people in the public eye – it is
for all of us to live to the full.
As a deliberate act of the will, catch yourself whenever you
find yourself rehearsing imaginary conversations with people
who have caused you grief, or with whom you particularly
want to make a good impression. You know from only too much
experience where these inner dialogues are likely to lead –
to endless turmoil and gloomy dead ends!
Reflect and Pray
give us the determination to rise above the but-what-ifs.
and to find creative ways to live
that will refresh and inspire others.
So far as it is possible, keep us from people
who drain and intimidate us –
but when we do have to be in contact with them,
may we not allow their influence
to crush our seeking of You,
for You never permitted anyone else’s agenda
to direct Your days or to rob You
of Your peace and purpose.