Marcus Aurelius was the original “philosopher-king.” Emperor of Rome for 19 years, from 161-180 AD, he was also considered one of the greatest Stoic philosophers. He was a big advocate of self-sufficiency and personal self-empowerment. He once wrote, “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
What Marcus Aurelius said almost 2000 years ago has become a rallying cry for modern American culture. “It is all within yourself,” we are told. We can make our own way, create our own life, carve our own path. Be fiercely independent. Or, as Frank Sinatra famously put it in his iconic song: “I did it my way.”
But it’s all an elaborate deception. That message is a lie.
There is a much better way, and it involves not going it alone. It means doing life together with God. It entails leaning on him for strength and wisdom, for courage, forgiveness and peace. It means believing that God is right when he tells us, “Two are better than one.” And that’s especially true when one of the two is God.
Consider this. When God is at our side, we have the Creator of heaven and earth beside us. When God is at our side, we have one who never needs to rest or sleep beside us. When God is at our side, we have One who desires to shade us from harm and who wants to to keep our foot from slipping. He knows the entirety of our life, and he knows the little bits and pieces of our life too — right down to every time we leave to go somewhere, and every time we return.
Sometimes life can be as risky as a trapeze act. But God is our divine safety net. He is where our help comes from.
Which means — as the Psalmist writes — he would be a pretty good person to keep close at hand at all times.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121:1-8, NIV).
Lord, thank you for being my protection. I am grateful that you watch over me, and over my coming and going. Help me to always recognize my need for you and your protection. Walk with me and guard my life.
Our Bible reading for Monday, November 9, is Ezekiel 17:1 – 18:32, Hebrews 9:16-28 and Psalm 121:1-8.
Header image based on "Lily on the Net" by Eden, Janine and Jim, CC By 2.0