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. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to Him.” And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” Acts 2:39-40 Tuesday after Pentecost
Good morning Prayer Team!
There is no question that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. That’s one of the reasons why the interstate freeway system was created, to get people from place to place across our country in the most efficient way possible. Taking “back roads” not only takes longer but if these roads are not well traveled, if they don’t have “services” like gas stations, restaurants and hotels, then they might not be the safest roads by which to travel.
There is no question that we live in a “crooked” society. It seems that we have a hard time arriving any destinations because we can’t pick the right roads. For instance, to have a good marriage requires honesty, patience, and forgiveness. If these drop out of a marriage, then the marriage becomes “crooked.” Because instead of driving straight on the interstate to a happy marriage, a couple is taking the “back roads” and “hoping” they find their destination. Yes, it is still possible to find the destination, but it takes more time and there is more risk that one is not going to make it. This is why marriages are not making it, because they are going off of the straight path and trying to make it without a road map.
There were certain “rules” and “standards” that made society “upwardly mobile.” When people saved money, they put a sizable down payment on a house, the houses grew in value, and people “flipped” houses and bought larger houses. When banks were deregulated and all of a sudden anyone could have a house, the dream of home ownership actually declined, because now the route was “crooked” and not the “straight” root it had been.
These days, hardly anyone spends four years in college. They either rush through in two or three, or drag out a four year program into five or six years. Neither really works.
I read somewhere that God made the day twenty four hours long—eight hours to work, eight hours to rest, and eight hours for family, house, relaxation, hobbies, exercise and spirituality. We’ve tinkered with that formula, so that now many people work more than eight hours, sleep much less than eight hours and family time, relaxation, exercise, hobbies and spirituality are getting squeezed out. God also “commanded” us to remember the Sabbath, to have a day of rest, to worship and to be with our families. It is one of the Ten Commandments. Again, we have tinkered with that as well, which no doubt has contributed to the continued decline of the family unit, and increase in personal stress.
The best way to a happy marriage is to NOT live together before, this is what God intended. And the best way to raise a child is in the context of a marriage. We’ve messed with those formulas as well. Again, if the goal of life is to get from where we are to where God is, then the best way to do that is to get off the “back roads” and get on God’s highway for us to stop walking the crooked path and get on the straight one.
In traveling circles, there are many who will tell you that the journey is more interesting if you take the back roads, to stay on the interstate is just boring. I might agree with this if I didn’t have a destination in mind, or an urgency to get there. We have a destination in mind—heaven. And we have an urgency—no one knows how long he or she has to live. So best to take the safe path that will take us in the most efficient way to our glorious destination.
Finally, sad to say, there are people who don’t believe in the destination. And they have no use for the map. They live on the back-roads of society. But just like the person who travels back roads with no map, they become lost. They have no sense of direction. And as the years of life go by, they wonder what if they even have a purpose.
So, echoing the words of St. Peter, let us save ourselves from the crooked generation we live in, and get on the straight path that God has laid for us, the one that doesn’t get us lost on the back roads but the one that leads us to His Kingdom.
Your Church is arrayed in the holy blood of Your Martyrs who witness throughout the world, as though in purple and fine linen. Through them she cried to You, Christ our God, “Send down to Your people Your tender love, grant peace from above to Your commonwealth, and to our souls Your great mercy. (Apolytikion from the Feast of All Saints, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Walk the straight path today!
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