Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Lessons from a Stoic and Jesus about Living in the Present
This is Episode #9 of Walking and Talking Spirituality with Dr. Brian Russell
Seneca (in Letter #5) from Letters from a Stoic talks about the problem of being lost either in the past or in the future rather than being present. He writes, “A number of our blessing do us harm, for memory brings back the agony of fear while foresight brings it on prematurely. No one confines his unhappiness to the present.”
I like Seneca because he helps me to think clearly about my interior life. Many Christians through the ages have found the Stoic writers (in particular Seneca and Epictetus) to be helpful.
Seneca hits a key theme that can hinder us in our spiritual growth. It is not only a Roman Stoic who can be trapped in the past or in the future. So can we.
Jesus taught us to realign continually in light of the good news of the kingdom of God (see Matt 4:17). What does it mean to realign or repent? It means to recenter ourselves on the ethics and mission of the kingdom of God. In essence it means to follow Jesus moment-by-moment. When we find ourselves focused on a past pattern, we realign with Jesus. When we feel anxious about the future, we realign with Jesus.
Try a prayer like this:
“My past is forgiven in Christ; my future is secure in Christ; so I can live and breathe and move moment-by-moment in the abundance of this new day.”
What do you do to stay centered in the present so that you can serve the world that is right in front of you rather than one that you remember from the past or one that you hope to encounter some day?