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
I Must Not See God as Enemy
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Good morning Prayer Team!
The heart is the center of body. We can function without anything else. If our hands don’t work, or we can’t see, or we can’t hear or we can’t speak, as long as the heart beats, we can breathe. Even when someone is “brain dead,” a machine can keep the heart pumping. Without a heartbeat, there is no life. The heart is the center of the body.
Because of the fall, the human heart is now broken. The heart is now inclined to see God as an enemy, as a threat. Therefore it is hard to surrender to Him, maybe not in all things but certainly in some things. If our heart resembled a road, it would not be a pristine path. Rather, it would look like a bumpy and trodden down road, beat up by others. The human heart is sick, and incurable. In fact, at some point, every human heart will stop beating. Our hearts are under a sentence of death.
Adam and Eve did not have this problem. They didn’t have wounded and incurable hearts. They didn’t see God as an enemy. They didn’t experience God as a threat. They were one with God, and with each other. As we have discussed previously, they walked with Him in the garden.
Our state of sin has opened the door to some pretty scary possibilities. When we go to confession, when we examine our faults and our shortcomings, we may look at ourselves and say “that is not the real me.” Or, “Yes, I did this thing but that wasn’t really ME doing it.” Except that it is. We are capable of doing anything. We may not think we are but we are. Everyone has had irrational thoughts, and in the wrong situation, anyone can fall to just about anything. And in these moments, when God is the first place we should be running, we run away from Him, since instead of seeing Him as benevolent Father, we see Him as enemy.
The key, if you will, to healing the wounded heart, is to stop seeing God as enemy, and to see Him as friend. The sacrament of confession is, among other things, a cry to God for help, a cry to God to repair a broken heart. It takes humility to realize that we cannot fix ourselves, no matter how smart or educated or accomplished we are. Only God can fix us. Only God can fix me. And God is eager to fix us. God is eager to fix me. But first, I have to have the humility to admit that only God can fix me. And second, I have to see God not as enemy, but as friend.
Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not Thyself from my supplication! Attend to me, and answer me; I am overcome by my trouble. . .My heart is in anguish within me, the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. . .I call upon God; and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and He will hear my voice. He will deliver my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. . . .Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved. . .I will trust in Thee. Psalm 55: 1-2, 4-5, 16-18, 22, 23
Focus on humility 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: YMI
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