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.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
Stewardship: Giving to God What Belongs to God—Part Fifteen
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing. II Timothy 4: 7-8
Good morning Prayer Team!
Anyone who is a sports fan has heard an exhausted athlete say “I left it all on the field.” In fact, I would venture to say that most athletes would rather lose having left it all on the field than win while holding something back. To “leave it all on the field” means that an athlete has given every ounce of energy and strength that he had and now walks away exhausted, but satisfied with his effort. Even in defeat, an athlete can be satisfied that he did everything he possibly could to win the game.
Have you consciously thought “I want to be exhausted when this event (name an event, or job) is over”? I think about that at summer camp each summer. I have often thought “I want to CRAWL out of here exhausted. I want to reach every person I possibly can, I want to take advantage of every opportunity to teach, or to listen or to help.” I think about that every year during Holy Week, that I want to arrive at the Resurrection exhausted. I want to savor every service, listen to every hymn, stand attentively for each scripture reading, to carefully offer each prayer, to be purposeful in each encounter with each parishioner in the sacraments of Holy Unction and Holy Communion.
We think that being “exhausted” is a bad thing. We might say “My kids exhaust me,” or “I’m exhausted from my work.” I would humbly submit to you that exhaustion can be a good thing—it means that we’ve given our best effort, that we’ve “left everything on the field” of our jobs, with our kids, etc.
Have you ever thought about the word “exhausted” when it comes to the end of your life? Have you ever had the thought “I want to die exhausted”? A good steward has as one of his or her goals, to die exhausted, to take EVERY opportunity to serve, to love, to help, to pray, to worship. A good steward wants to die having “left everything on the field.”
All that God (or anyone else) can expect from us is our best. If we’ve given our best, if we’ve held nothing back, if we’ve left it all on the field, holding nothing in reserve, if we live, and die, exhausted, God will most definitely be pleased with this.
One of my favorite Scripture passages is II Timothy 4:7. It reads “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” In fact, when I die, I hope that this will be the epitaph not only on my grave, but I hope this will be the epitaph engraved on the soul that I will present to God. I want to fight a good fight. I want to finish my “race,” the path that God lays out for my life. I want to keep the faith, through good times and tough ones, in successes and failures, in easy times and challenging ones. I want to leave it all on the field of life. I want to die exhausted.
And because I do not know how long I have to live, then I want to keep these things in mind every day. Going to bed exhausted is not the worst thing that can happen each day. In fact, going to bed exhausted from a good day of being a steward is a great thing.
Someone once told me “It’s not how much we get but how much we give away that matters most in the eyes of God.” Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun of the 20th century, said “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
Our fighting a good fight, finishing the race, keeping the faith and dying exhausted, starts with the effort we give today. So, leave it all on the field today. Be exhausted in your service. Offer your best. For as we read in II Timothy 4:8, for those who do this “There is laid up (for me) the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in His ways! Thou hast commanded Thy precepts to be kept diligently. O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping Thy statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all Thy commandments. I will praise Thee with an upright heart, when I learn Thy righteous ordinances. Psalm 119:1-7
Think about how you want to die—exhausted. And let that affect how you live today—leave it all on the field what whatever you are doing TODAY!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: NWI Times, Nicholas Demille, The Times
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