Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may appear in my glory, says the Lord. You have looked for much, and lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while you busy yourselves each with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. Haggai 1:8-10
Good morning Prayer Team!
One night after a late parish council meeting, knowing that I was going to get home after everyone went to sleep and not wanting to make lots of noise getting some food, I decided to stop by Taco Bell and get a burrito for the ride home. While driving, I decided to call my brother in California. I do use a hands-free earpiece when talking on the phone in the car. So, one ear was occupied, the other open to the sounds of the road, emergency vehicles, etc. I ordered my burrito, and as I drove away, I opened it and started to eat. With one hand on the burrito, one hand on the steering wheel, one ear on the phone, my one mouth chewing and fortunately still with TWO eyes on the road, I realized that I was overwhelmed with activity, I didn’t have room for another thing-I did not have a free hand, or mouth, or eye or ear to handle any other stimulus that might come my way.
There are some people who live their life constantly at this pace. There is no time to rest, to exercise, for personal reflection, for sleep or most importantly, for prayer. I could NOT pray that other night in the condition I was in. Both ears were working, one listening to traffic and the other on the phone. Which ear was going to listen to the “still, small voice”? (I Kings 19:12) Which hand was available to help someone in need? Which mouth was available to give words of encouragement?
God has given us our bodies and our talents as tools by which to not only enjoy life but to help others. There has to be room in the schedule for the Lord. There has to be room in the schedule for others. If there is not room in the schedule for both the Lord and for others, then we are in violation of the two great commandments: to love God and to love one another. Certainly the chaotic scene in my car is more rule than exception for many of us, including me. But I don’t live every moment of my life like that. There are moments when no hand, no mouth, no ear is needing to work, when all of these things, as well as my brain and my heart, are ready to encounter and experience God.
As we begin a new week, as we dive back into work, let’s not forget to leave some space for the Lord: to pray, to listen, to allow Him to be at work in our lives, and to allow ourselves to do His work in our lives. Referring to the verses from Haggai above, so much of our society is ruins because of this very thing-making room for God-that is absent from too many lives. It is a struggle to do all the things we have to do. But the struggle is made easier when we leave A hand or AN ear free to be used by God.
Lord, thank You for the gift of another week. Help me today to work efficiently in my tasks, to balance my responsibilities, and to also make sure that I not only “make room” for You, but that I give You the first of my heart, the first of my soul, the first of my life. Please walk with me today. Please inspire me to walk with You today. Amen.
Have a great day!