Arise, O God, please Thy cause; remember how the impious scoff at Thee all the day! Do not forget the clamor of Thy foes, the uproar of Thy adversaries which goes up continually! Psalm 74: 22-23
The battle between good and evil has raged since the Fall of mankind, when Cain killed his brother Abel. While most of us will not murder another person or be murdered ourselves, much of life is spent murdering the ideas of others or seeing them murder our ideas. This is the result of the Fall, of which we all collectively suffer the consequences.
There is a formula, if you will, for a good life. It is a mix between rest and work, between serving others while accepting the generosity of others, of being patient when our ideas do not agree, of being the leader and being the servant, of listening to the word of God and spreading it, and many other activities where we mold things that seem to be opposites into a balanced life. Sad to say, we are messing with the formula and we have gotten ourselves out of balance.
Take the balance between rest and work. Someone once told me that the day has 24 hours for a reason—we are supposed to work for 8 of them, rest for 8 of them, and the other 8 are for things like exercise, house work, time with family, friends and hobbies. Sunday was to be a day of rest, spent in worship and then with family. We’ve messed with this formula, first by adding more than 40 hours a week to the work schedule. We’ve put things on Sunday mornings to conflict with worship. We aren’t completely present at work so work often goes into the evening hours. We don’t spend enough time with our children or on our marriages and we don’t exercise enough. If you try to restrict the work day to 8 hours or the work week to 40 hours, you might find yourself out of a job. If you try to reserve Sunday mornings for worship, your child might find himself or herself off of a sports team. It we try to hold to some kind of balance here, it’s as the Psalm says, others will scoff at us.
Because we don’t have a balance in how we spend our 24-hour day and 168-hour week, the other things fall out of balance. We are less patient than we should be. We are also less forgiving and understanding. Because life seems to move at an out-of-control pace, we crave opportunities to lead, or at least preserve self-expression. This makes is not be as good followers as we should be. We don’t spend enough time worshipping God or studying His word, we struggle to be followers, and find ourselves unable to be leaders in spreading the word of God.
I’m reminded of the story in Genesis when all of society seemed to go away from God. Noah was the only God-fearing man of his time. And God chose Noah and asked him to build an ark, because God was going to flood the world and make it anew. People saw Noah building this huge ark in the middle of a forest, they saw him bringing the animals aboard, and they laughed at him. They laughed at him as he gathered his family inside and locked the door behind him. This man must be crazy, they thought, that is until the day the rains came and Noah was saved while they perished. This story is recounted in Matthew 24:36-39 when Jesus tells His followers:
“But of that day and hour no one know, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
When we choose to be steadfast in our faith, when we try to live our life according to the way that God intends for us to live it, in some sense of balance, others will probably laugh at us. They may do it our whole lives. Yet there is reward in following after Christ, even in the face of criticism. There is internal, spiritual reward. There is a peace that can only come from Christ. There is a sense of purpose and hope that can only come from Christ. And after life on earth ends, the faithful follower, like Noah, will be rewarded, with the gift of everlasting life, of everlasting joy. This is the challenge of life, to live a balanced life in Christ, even in the midst of the chaos around us, even as we hear other scoff at God and those who follow Him.
Keep your eyes on God today. Try to get enough sleep. Be present at work so that you can be efficient in your tasks. Take time to exercise. Spend meaningful time with family. Quality is enough, even when quantity isn’t possible. Reserve Sundays for worship and rest. And don’t pay attention to those who question your priorities. They don’t live your life. If they want to live out of balance and chaotic, that is a choice for them. Live for God more than for others, because the most successful life is the one lived for God above all else.
O God, why does Thou cast us off forever? Why does Thy anger smoke against the sheep of Thy pasture? Remember Thy congregation, which Thou has gotten of old, which Thou hast redeemed to be the tribe of Thy heritage! Remember Mount Zion, where Thou hast dwelt. Direct thy steps to the perpetual ruins; the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary! Thy foes have roared in the mist of Thy holy place; they set up their own signs for signs. At the upper entrance they hacked the wooden trellis with axes. And then all its cared wood they broke down with hatchets and hammers. They set Thy sanctuary on fire; to the ground they desecrated the dwelling place of Thy name. They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”; they burned all the meeting places of God in the land. We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long. How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile Thy name forever? Why dost thou hold back Thy hand, why dost Thou keep Thy right hand in Thy bosom? Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. Thou didst divide the sea by Thy might; Thou didst break the heads of the dragons on the waters. Thou didst crus the heads of Leviathan, Thou didst give him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. Thou didst cleave open springs and brooks; Thou didst dry up ever-flowing streams. Thine is the day; Thine also is the night; Thou hast established the luminaries and the sun. Thou hast fixed all the bounds of the earth; Thou hast made summer and winter. Remember this, O Lord, how the enemy scoffs and an impious people reviles Thy name. Do not deliver the soul of Thy dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of Thy poor forever. Have regard for Thy covenant; for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence. Let not the downtrodden be put to shame; let the poor and needy praise Thy name. Arise, O God, plead Thy cause; remember how the impious scoff at Thee all the day! Do not forget the clamor of Thy foes, the uproar of Thy adversaries which goes up continually! Psalm 74
Work to get in balance and to stay in balance, each day!
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
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.
ABOUT THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN NETWORK
Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is a 501(c)3 and an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America .It is a recognized leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty-two years. We have worked to create a community for both believers and non believers alike by sharing the timeless faith of Orthodoxy with the contemporary world through modern media. We are on a mission to inspire Orthodox Christians Worldwide. Click to signup to receive weekly newsletter.
Join us in our Media Ministry Missions! Help us bring the Orthodox Faith to the fingertips of Orthodox Christians worldwide! Your gift today will helps us produce and provide unlimited access to Orthodox faith-inspiring programming, services and community. Don’t wait. Share the Love of Orthodoxy Today!