“If it’s old, it can’t be the least bit insightful or relevant.” I used to believe that. I was young. In my mind, I was incredibly enlightened. Older folks were without a clue. Maybe you thought that about your parents. . . or your teachers. . . or your coaches. . . back when you were going through your own years of adolescence. I know I did.
Since then I’ve grown up. . . I think. And with age, as they say, comes wisdom. . . again, I think. For me, age has given me enough experience of my own to let me know 1) I was close to clueless during my younger years, 2) I engaged in a kind of intellectual arrogance way back when, and 3) wisdom can be found in age.
So today, I consult the old. . . both living and dead. I seek their wisdom in their books. Every now and then I get to sit under someone living who pours out gems. Since I now realize that I don’t know anywhere the amount of things I once thought I knew. . . well, I listen. I realize I need to be a sponge.
For several years now I’ve been consulting from time to time with some long-gone Puritan writers. A few weeks ago I blogged about my ongoing trek through Thomas Brooks’ Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, a book written almost four-hundred years ago. My journey through Brooks’ continues, and this morning I read something that I believe is both relevant and necessary for us today. I also think it’s worth teaching to our kids.
In the second half of the book, Brooks list a host of schemes and strategies the enemy of our souls uses to keep us from pursuing God, specifically the pursuit of things like engaging in the spiritual disciplines, meeting with other believers, and corporate worship. Sounds a bit like what today’s youth culture (and even culture-at-large) encourages us to do.
This morning, Brooks informed. . . or rather “reminded”. . . me if a strategy that I’m especially vulnerable to. In the words of Brooks, Satan keeps us away from these spiritual duties “by presenting them to them the danger, the losses, and the sufferings that do attend the performance of such and such religious services.” In other words, we start to ponder the cost to us in terms of push-back, mockery, and even persecution. Again, sounds like the culture, doesn’t it?
Brooks goes on to lay out five “remedies” to these scheme of the enemy. Let me try to summarize them in my own words. They are helpful to me. I think we can teach them as helpful strategies for our kids to employ. And I wonder. . . what would happen if we created cultures at home and in the youth group that consistently reminded kids of and reinforced these strategies?
- Realize that according to God’s faithfulness and promises, these troubles and afflictions that you encounter can never harm you. We are secure in Christ and He has promised to protect us.
- Realize and consider the number of saints who have walked this earth before us, encountered and endured hardships to their faith, and who are now with Christ. They were faithful and they have received their reward in Heaven. Yes, that great cloud of witnesses is cheering us on!
- Realize and remember that these trials and travails are momentary. But to choose to walk away from the life of faithful discipleship opens you up to all kinds of temporal, spiritual, and eternal dangers.
- Realize that at times, God allows difficult providences to shape us. In fact, God delivers us from greater troubles, greater afflictions, and greater dangers by allowing us to face troubles, afflictions, and dangers.
- In Brooks’ words: “You shall gain more in the service of God, and by walking in righteous and holy ways, though troubles and afflictions should attend you, than you can possibly suffer, or lose, by your being found in the service of God.”
And we sometimes think that the Puritans have nothing to teach us. . . .