“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” – Isaiah 26:3
This morning I want to share an excerpt from a book I’m reading by Fénelon. Who’s Fénelon, you ask? I hadn’t heard of him either. After reading some of his writing, though, I’m intrigued by this man’s wisdom and humility. He seemed to have a grasp on what it means to die to self and live in complete abandonment to the Lord.
François de Salignac de La Mothe Fénelon was the Archbishop of Cambrai, France, during the 17th century. He was the spiritual advisor in the Court of Louis the Fourteenth. The book, Let Go, is a compilation of 40 different letters that were written by Fénelon to encourage believers who desired to live godly lives in the midst of a palace life that was shamelessly immoral.
One particular letter resonated with me this week – Letter 5, “Peace Comes Through Simplicity and Obedience.” Lately I’ve been anxious, impatient, and angry, and for no apparent reason. Fénelon’s insight helped me to see the main reason for my lack of peace:
“Learn to cultivate peace. And you can do this by turning a deaf ear to your own ambitious thoughts. Or haven’t you yet learned that the strivings of the human mind not only impair the health of your body, but also bring dryness to the soul. You can actually consume yourself by too much inner striving. And to no purpose at all! Your peace and inner sweetness can be destroyed by a restless mind.
You have been asking for comfort and peace. But you do not understand that you have been led to the brink of the fountain, and are refusing to drink. Peace and comfort can be found nowhere except in simple obedience. So be faithful in obeying even when you do not understand, and you will soon find that the rivers of water will flow, as God has promised. You will receive according to the measure of your faith: much, if you believe much; nothing, if you believe nothing and continue to listen to your own restless thoughts.
You dishonor the meaning of Christian love when you suppose that a man who truly loves God could ever be worried about these trifles with are continually clamoring for your attention. Christian love goes straight to God in pure simplicity, knowing that these trifles are no problem to Him. Satan is the one who torments us with trivialities. And he often transforms himself into an angel of light, and bothers us with endless self-examinations and an over-sensitive conscience which allows us no peace. I’m sure you know by experience the trouble and spiritual danger which Satan can bring upon you in this way. But you can be victorious. Everything depends upon your faithfulness in repelling his first advances.”
Did that speak to you as it did to me? I was reminded that I must take thoughts captive that do not line up with God’s Word. If I don’t, then I will surely end up in a pit of despair. Keeping my mind fixed on the Lord requires self-discipline and a refusal to entertain lies.
When you find your mind wandering from the truth, you have to reign it back in and refocus. Choose to believe what God says instead of what your emotions are at any given moment. Stand firm against the desires of your flesh, and be led by the Spirit.
Fénelon is right. You can be victorious. God’s perfect peace can be yours, if you trust Him and follow His commands.