A Simple Suggestion For Peace by Dale McCamish
I both love and hate the picture C.S. Lewis creates in my mind when I read this quote: “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.” I love the quote, because like most of C.S. Lewis’s writings, I am blown away by his wit, elegance, imagination, and wisdom. And I hate the quote, too, because sometimes, I find that he is referring to me. Maybe he’s talking about you, too. Have you picked up and loaded up your arms and hands with so much mud lately that you don’t have any room to pick up God’s peace?
Here’s what I think we should try: Every person should take a break from social media for the next four days. Let’s quit the articles, news, and social media posts that bring us down, and pick up the thoughts and actions that God says will bring us peace.
I know it’s weird to ask you to stop reading social media as you are reading social media, but I think it will help your peace of mind. And I am not saying that you have to give up all social media for four days (even though that would probably help), because I know some of you are addicted to your screens and to the endorphins that fire when you see the responses. But I am suggesting that for the next four days we should ignore all the posts about conspiracy theories, medical research, arguments, and inflammatory remarks that set us off. Especially, the ones that we can’t do anything about!
So, if you are not part of the election cycle in another state, maybe ignore that one. If you can’t do anything about what the President said, except get upset, just ignore that one. If you can’t change someone’s mind (and you won’t with a social media response) just ignore that one. Ignore the posts that use cuss words and cutting wit; ignore the hurtful posts and the angry posts. Just take a break. Let’s all lay down our mud pies, leave the social media slums and go for a holiday at the “beach of clear minds and un-cricked necks.”
There is enough research available now (on social media, no less) that connects the amount of screen time we have with our mental health, and the number of hours of social media we consume to depression and anxiety. There is enough research out there that we should be putting down our screens more often than we pick them up. But too often, I’m that ignorant kid that C.S. Lewis mentions. So, why don’t we collectively put down the drama that we keep picking up from social media and ask ourselves a couple of questions before we pick it up again?
How has what I’ve been reading or watching lately helped me serve others sacrificially, like Jesus served me?
What have I been watching and reading that has led me to serve God with my faith in action?
Did that last social media post motivate me to go visit the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or visit those in prisons?
If the only action we were motivated to take was a “heart” or “angry face” emoji, then I suggest we take a break from social media and go look to physically serve someone with our hands.
Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has some similar suggestions for us in Philippians chapter 4. When he writes to us from his jail cell, he commands actions that help us gain traction for peace of mind. Instead of conspiracy theories, political parties, and ant-whatevers, Paul recommends we spend our time going to God with thanksgiving and prayer. Then, he suggests we replace the mud pie, slum thoughts with thoughts that God would be pleased with. And finally, Paul says, go put your life into action. And Paul promises us, that when we practice living this way, we will not only get the peace of God in our lives, but we will also experience the presence and comfort of the God of peace in our lives. The peace from God, and the God of peace guarding our hearts and minds. And this is available to us if only our hearts would recognize the holiday at sea God is offering us. If only our desires for true peace would outweigh our desire for instant emotion.
Paul says it like this: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9 NIV
So, won’t you join me over the next four days? Let’s put down the social media drama and take up the meditations on things that are lovely and true and then put our hands into action to serve others. Finally, let’s all report back here to social media about how the God of peace made His presence known in our lives. And maybe we’ll convince someone else about the beauty of a holiday at sea.