Lessons from Life

Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2, Sun 4th May

Recently I took delivery of a new mobile phone. Quite a complex affair, boasting a range of amazing new features. Being a typical male with a stubborn resistance to being told how to do anything, I tossed aside the instruction manual and set about figuring it all out. Soon I had managed to have a conversation with the phone itself, take a close-up photo of my hand, and record a short film of the clutter on my desk – but had not set up my speed dials, which is what I was attempting. Needless to say I ended up consulting the manual.

Sadly it is not only with phones that I have this problem of ignoring instructions. Although I daily study my scriptures I have to admit that I don’t always do what they say. As they say, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. However, the inevitable result is the same as with my new phone. I end up frustrated. But one lesson I have managed to learn over the years is that such frustration is a good thing, a sign that I am getting something wrong and, not connecting with the divine.

For me that connection is crucial to achieving peace and happiness. In truth we have little control over this world. Things so often don’t work out the way we hoped. We try our best, but ultimately there is a higher power in control. When we recognise and accept that control, life becomes so much easier. Martin Luther King used to say that when he faced a particularly difficult time he would spend an extra hour on his knees in prayer, rather than working longer and harder trying to solve the problems himself.

I see scriptures as divine instruction manuals. They guide us away from excessive materialism with all its attendant stresses and struggles, and toward the peace and happiness of spirituality. The real joy we seek lies within us not without. So in future I think I will try to check my massive male ego and stick to following the manual.