The Confident Life of a Disciple: Believing and Belonging—Part Three

The Confident Life of a Disciple: Believing and Belonging—Part Three

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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

Confidence Built by Entrusting our Whole Life

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?  He answered, “And Who is He, sir, that I may believe in Him?”  Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him, and it is He who speaks to you.”  He said, “Lord, I believe”; and worshipped Him.  John 9:35-38

Good morning Prayer Team!

In the previous reflection, we discussed the desire to have confidence at the end of life, so that one can die with joy and without a question mark.  We all want to die with confidence in our salvation.  No one wants to die with a question mark, no one wants to live out their final days in fear and terror.  No one wants to grow old and feel that the sand is draining from the hourglass of life.

The key to building confidence in the Lord and in our preparation to meet Him is to entrust our entire life to Him.  If one entrusts his or her entire life to Christ, that will be a confidence-building exercise.

So what does that mean, to entrust our whole life to the Lord?  As I reflect on this question, two things come to mind.  The first is to take a “global” view of our entire life.  In some sense, I’ve entrusted my whole life to God through ordination to the priesthood.  I’ve left where I serve and how I serve completely in His hands, through the hands of His bishops.  This choice to entrust my life to God has come at a high cost.  Since being ordained over twenty years ago, I’ve never served in my home state, near my family.  I’ve also had to pick up and move a couple of times to cities I had never visited.  This trust, however, has also come with good reward.  My basic needs have been met.  I’ll never be rich (not one of my goals anyway) but I don’t lack food to eat or a roof over my head.  While I sometimes worry about moving again in the future, I never worry that my basic needs won’t be met.  God has always provided supportive people in my life.  They may not live in my town but I never feel alone and supported by no one.  So while picking up and moving again is something I really don’t want to do, I trust the Lord that if it ever happened again, He’d take care of my basic needs, my emotional needs, etc.

The second thing that comes to mind when thinking about entrusting our “whole life” to God is that our whole life consists of today.  I have no idea how long my whole life is going to last, so my whole life, what I actually have, is today.  The challenge each day is to entrust TODAY to Him.  To entrust today, each action, each conversation, each decision, to Him.  To make each decision, to talk to each person, to do each thing, under His umbrella.

I’m reminded of some advice that my mom gave me when I started college, advice that I have since passed down to many other college students.  She told me to treat college like a forty hour a week job and if I did so, that I would do well at it. The key to this advice was consistency, to put in forty hours each week—15 hours of class and 25 hours of legitimate studying (no interruptions for texting or a knock on the door or having the TV on in the background, etc.) and to do it from the first week of the semester.

Breaking down the numbers for college, if each semester is roughly 15 weeks, then that’s 225 hours of class and 375 hours of studying which would average out to forty hours a week.  Many students don’t study for the first several weeks of the semester so what inevitably ends up happening is that a student will end up having to average 50+ hours a week of studying because they didn’t study for half a semester, and then there will be all-nighters, and the student won’t fulfill his or her potential not because they aren’t smart but because they weren’t consistent.  When I was in college, I followed the “forty hour rule”, I got legitimate studying in from the very first week of the semester.  I entrusted my whole semester to this program, and because of being consistent, I consistently did very well in my classes and received top grades in the process.  I actually kept a total of  my hours each semester, which averaged forty a week.  I never did less than thirty-seven or more than forty-two.  I never pulled an “all nighter” either.  I say this with humility.  It was the consistency that gave me confidence.

The Christian life is not about checking boxes.  It’s not about being a good Christian for forty hours a week, or anything superstitious like this.  However, entrusting our life to Christ means that we have to get on His program—we have to set up a “schedule” for ourselves that includes daily prayer, daily reading of scriptures, weekly worship, a daily habit of following the commandments and a daily habit of seeking to serve others.

Cramming for the test at the end of life might work, just like cramming for a test in college might work.  But one can’t have confidence when cramming.  It is consistency that breeds confidence.  The college semester consisted of fifteen weeks.  I was successful in college because I focused on each day, and working steadily each day, each week.  Entrusting our whole life to Christ means consistently living out our Christianity on a daily basis.  In colleges, days became weeks, and weeks became semesters, and consistency gave me successful semesters and ultimately success in college.  In the Christian life, days become weeks, weeks become months and months become years.  It is consistency each day, each week and each year that builds a life that has been entrusted to Christ.  The decision to entrust our lives to Christ begins with a decision to entrust Him with TODAY!

Today’s Scripture passage is from the end of the story of the healing of the blind man in John 9.  The man entrusted his health to Christ.  He also entrusted his reputation.  He didn’t know who Christ was.  He truly trusted because he didn’t even know who he was dealing with.  His decisions, actions and words ultimately cost him his family (his parents wouldn’t speak up to defend him) and his participation in the temple (he was thrown out by the Jewish temple leaders).  When he encountered Christ again, and Christ revealed who He was to the man, the man eagerly entrusted his life to Him.

The decision to entrust our lives to Christ may seem daunting.  It may cost us family, friends and comfort.  But it will yield eternal reward.

The decision to entrust our lives to Christ may seem also seem daunting because “life” seems like a long time.  Thus, the first step in entrusting our lives to Him is the decision to give TODAY to Him!

We entrust to You, loving Master, our whole life and hope, and we beseech, pray, and implore You: Grant us to partake of Your heavenly and awesome Mysteries from this sacred and spiritual table with a clear conscience for the remission of sins, the forgiveness of transgressions, the communion of the Holy Spirit, the inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven, and boldness before You, not unto judgment or condemnation.  (From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, 2015)

Entrust your day to the Lord today—live it in Him and for Him!

+Fr. Stavros

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With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.

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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.

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Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

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.”