Faith Matters: Good things to dwell on

Things to believe in: Parents who keep their promises are setting a great example for their children.
Things to believe in: Parents who keep their promises are setting a great example for their children.

What do you do when you’re tired of debate, the politics has been monotonous, the issues depressing for all sides and you are just a little over it, or perhaps a lot over it? Some people love all this stuff but perhaps I can offer a little moment of refreshing respite for us all.

In a life that gets a little too serious at times, I received some sage advice: “Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence, and if there is any praise – dwell on these things.”

So let me dwell with you for a moment on these things for our edification and reflection.  

I know a woman who, frustrated by all that is wrong with her husband’s health, patiently sits by his hospital bed. Still after 59 years, full of love and admiration, she is looking forward to their 60th wedding anniversary. There is something magnificently true and honourable about that, and its one of those moments in life worth dwelling on.

I know a father who aims to keep every promise to his children even at personal expense. He makes no foolish promises but the ones he makes he keeps. When I dwell on that for a moment I think: “Ah, the model of a just man teaching his children the justice of keeping your word”.

Dwelling on good things, I remember meeting some teenagers who under pressure and against the odds are committed to purity and moral excellence and I find their courage inspiring. To know that there are youth who will not compromise their absolutes holds great hope for our future. It also goes a long way to easing a parent’s fears.

Small things are worth noticing as well, like a little boy who delights to swing a golf club.

Small things are worth noticing as well, like a little boy who delights to swing a golf club. He walks happily with his dad up the 6th, constantly reminding him that he’s one stroke up. Yet, that little fella finds time to run across a fairway to give a friend a hug proving that even a bad day at golf can have its lovely moments.

Of course, this doesn’t work with adults, so next time you see me at golf don’t run across fairways to give me a hug or anyone else for that matter. Some things lose their loveliness with age.

I know a correspondent who disagrees with me and took the time to express a view with respect and who listened humbly to a reply. That is so commendable and when dwelt upon encouraged me to be equally respectful in disagreement and humble when listening to others. It made me realise that good debate is still achievable and worth being part of.

To these, I could add the honest business man, the gracious speech of a losing captain, the just care of refugees, the policeman who slows us down before fatality, our defence force peace keepers, the generosity of a neighbour, and the myriad number of little but commendable helps that people offer each other on a daily basis. And this has not included God’s garden floral arrangements or the sweet spring rain and so much more.   

When life has no margins and we are too busy to notice those things worth dwelling on, then depression follows and unsurprisingly, so does thanklessness. And an ungrateful depressed person is a danger to themselves and to our society. It is worth taking some sage advice.

By the way, the sage advice offered above was taken from the Bible, Philippians chapter 4 verse 8. What a helpful, health-giving book given by a helpful, health-giving God. Of course there is no one truer, more honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable or morally excellent and praiseworthy than God. Perhaps we would all do well to find some margin to dwell on Him for some real peace and joy.