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
Yea, Thou dost light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. Yea, by Thee I can crush a troop; and by my god I can leap over a wall. This God—His way is perfect; the promise of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him. For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, expect our God?—The God who girded me with strength, and made my way safe. Psalm 18:28-32
Good morning Prayer Team!
Continuing some concluding remarks about relating summer camp to the Christian life, today’s reflection centers around another team-building activity called “The Wall.” In this challenge, campers have to get over a 12 foot wall working together. The first person gets up without any help from above. Campers launch that person up the wall, they grab onto the top and pull themselves up. The last person gets up with no help from below. They have to run and jump and grab the hands of the people up on top. The people in between, after the first and before the last, go up with the benefit of help from below and above.
Again, this exercise promotes the idea of trusting in others. One has to cede a measure of control to allow himself or herself to be lifted and pulled over the wall. One also has to help out—someone who is “dead weight” becomes a danger to those above and below. So here one again has most of the elements of the Christian life: There is trust, active participation, help from others and help from Above, help from God.
In order to have a successful Christian life, one cannot do it alone. Unlike the first person who goes up the wall, there is no one who can scale the “walls” of life without help from “Above.” Without God’s help we are not going to get over the challenges that life throws at all of us. And unlike the last person who goes over the wall, there is no one who gets through life without help from below, without help from his or her peers. We need both the help of the Lord and of our neighbor in order to scale the wall of life and be lifted into Paradise. We need help to get there. We must also be helpers, willing to help lift up others. We lift them up with encouragement. We lift them up by being careful.
One question campers are asked after they get over the wall is: Is it easier to pull someone up the wall, or pull someone down? The easy answer is, that it is easier to pull someone down than lift them up. Gravity helps in that. In life, it is easier to tear people down than build them up. On the wall, pulling someone down would result in not only failure but in injury. It works the same way in life. When we tear down others, they are likely to get injured, and more likely to fail in the mission of their life. Our role has to be one of helper and encourager. Every day, we encounter walls in our lives. Every day, we see others encounter walls as well. Every day, we should ask for help in conquering our challenges. And every day, we should look for opportunities to help others conquer theirs. We need help from Above and below. And we need to build people up and stop tearing them down.
Thank You Lord for the gift of this day. I know not necessarily all the challenges I will face. Please give me confidence that You will help me from Above. Please surround me with people that will help me from “below.” Help me to find joy in building people up, and give me the strength to resist the temptation to tear others down. Amen.
Build up someone today!
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