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
Your Story—Where Is Your Line in the Sand?
So, therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple. Luke 14: 33
Good morning Prayer Team!
Picture the image of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixion. He is not hidden in some house but out in the open, knowing that in a few moments He will be arrested, tried, tortured, beaten, and killed. The warmth of the candle light of the upper room at the Last Supper has been replaced by the cold air of the night. The fellowship with His Disciples, His friends, has turned to loneliness. He has asked three to watch with Him. And they have fallen asleep. As He prays, Jesus is in such agony that He is sweating drops of blood. (Luke 22:44)
In His prayer, filled with fear and sorrow, cold and loneliness, Jesus surrenders to the Father, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) This prayer encapsulates what it means to surrender. It acknowledges that surrender is not easy—in the prayer, Jesus asks for the cup of suffering to be removed if possible. But He surrenders, that it be God’s will, and not His own, that is done.
It’s really a “nice” thing that we pray so often in the Lord’s Prayer “Thy will be done.” However, to really mean that, to really surrender, is very difficult indeed. Many of us have prayed “Lord, I’ll do anything for You.” I know I have. I’ve even tried to make bargains with the Lord, like “Lord, I’ll do anything for You if You’ll do this thing for me.”
Now, what if the Lord came and said “I want to take your son away, give him a serious disease and he’s going to die, but his death will lead to the cure of that disease and will save many other lives.” What would I say? What would you say?
If the Lord came and said “I need your son/daughter”, most of us would respond, “Please don’t take him/her.” What if the Lord said “I need your spouse,” most of us who are married would respond, “Please don’t take him/her.” If God said “I want your retirement account,” most of us would say “Please don’t take that.” Same would be true if God said He needed our home, our town (called us to move away), our friends, and other things. If God said, “I want ten percent of your income for the work of the church,” most of us would say, “Oh, no, I need that, please ask me for something else.” If God said “Forgive the person you despise the most” some of us would say “Please pick someone else.”
As much as we’d like to say, “Lord, Your will be done, take everything, even my life,” most of us if we are honest have drawn a line in the sand. We’ll give God “everything within reason” according to our definition of what we think is reasonable. We would hold back at some point on something, and probably at many points on many things.
Now, before you stop reading and say “Father, you are being unreasonable,” I can’t give up stuff, I have kids to raise, bills to pay, etc.”, let’s talk about this from a practical perspective.
Do you have ten minutes a day that you can give up to pray? We all do!
Do you have two hours to worship on Sundays? We all do!
Do you have time today to serve someone else? We all do!
Do you have time today to encourage someone else? We all do!
We can’t talk about surrendering our lives to Christ if we can’t surrender a few minutes to pray or a couple of hours to worship, or a little bit of time to be helpful or encouraging.
Again, it goes back to who has the wheel of our lives. Do we plan a future around God, or do we plan God around our future? Do we leave room for God to work in our lives or do we micromanage every event of them? Do we leave room for the Holy Spirit to heal what is infirm and complete what is lacking, or do we feel complete just as we are? Have we drawn a line in the sand separating what we offer back to God and what belongs to us?
Indeed life is transformed when we give God the wheel of our lives. Transformation can’t happen when we are in sole control. It can only happen when we give Him control. Just like one can’t be free when He controls everything. We are the most free when we surrender.
Where is your line in the sand? What are the things you willing to give to God? What things are “off limits”? Spend a few minutes also thinking about some concrete and practical things that can help you more fully surrender to God.
Today’s prayer is a popular Christian hymn about surrender, written by Frances Havergal in 1874:
Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days, let them flow in endless praise.
Take my hands and let them move, at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be, swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing, always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be, filled with message for Thee.
Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use, every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine, it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is Thine own, it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour, at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be, ever only, all for Thee.
Christ loved us so much He gave everything. How much are we willing to surrender to Him?
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: Huffington Post/KNOWPLACELIKEHOME.COM
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