QHow can I begin a new life?
aBeginning a new life is all about making space. All too often we fall into the trap of thinking that beginning a new life is about the new things that we set out to do. But it’s actually about the old things that we decide to not do. This principle is put clearly in the teaching of the prophet Isaiah: “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good” (Is. 16:17). This is because no one can do goodness on his own; it is only by the Lord’s power that anyone does anything good! But the Lord can only lend His strength to do good things when we make space for Him to operate in our lives.
QWhat are things I can do on a daily basis to work towards this new life?
aPick some kind of selfish behavior and work consciously to refrain from doing it. What we will find is that when we cease to do that evil, good behaviors will inevitably flow in and replace them. Just like cutting cynical remarks from your repertoire makes way for loving and constructive comments, if we employ constant vigilance in smothering selfishness, we will find that, bit by bit, we will become more selfless and will begin a new life.
QHow can I navigate a life of peace when those around me are in turmoil?
aHave you ever been down the shore and spotted a lighthouse? Many of the lighthouses in America have been around for over a century. They have withstood hurricanes and mighty crashing waves beating on their very foundations. These lighthouses are perhaps the best example of what it takes to stand firm amidst the seas of turmoil in the world around us. This is because they, very powerfully, demonstrate a teaching presented by the Lord in the Gospel of Matthew. He says a wise person builds a house on the rock, while a foolish person builds a house on the sand. The wise person is “whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them” and a foolish person is “everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them.”
The way to stand firm and remain at peace is to live according to the Ten Commandments, no matter what the people nearby are doing. This might not be the most popular decision a person can make, but it is the only way to ensure true peace and happiness in oneself, even while the world around seems to crumble and want to take you with it. That way, when the rain descends and the floods come and the wind beats on your house, you will not fall, but will be like those lighthouses along our shores that stand as beacons of light and true living, serving to guide all those who wish to find peace for themselves.
Rev. Christopher A. Barber is a religion teacher at the Academy of the New Church Secondary Schools. In his free time he enjoys studying New Church History and watching Law and Order and also loves to travel. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Dr. Annika F. Barber and their tiny dog Sazed.