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
And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to Him a blind man, and begged Him to touch him. And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village; and when He had spit on his eyes and laid His hands upon him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men; but they look like trees, walking.” Then again He laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly. Mark 8:22-25
Good morning Prayer Team!
This week I am wrapping up this series on lessons learned at summer camp. I share these stories with you because they are fresh in my mind and because they have great application to the Christian life, whether one goes to summer camp or not, whether one is a teen or a senior citizen.
Today’s message is about trusting God, and I will relate it to an activity we do at camp, called the “trust walk.” In a trust walk, two people are paired together, (sometimes we let them choose, but usually it is at random) one is blindfolded and the other is not. The person who is not blindfolded leads the blindfolded person on a walk over, under and around obstacles. Sometimes the pair is allowed to talk. Other times, the sighted partner may lead by touch and not talk. After ten minutes or so, the partners switch roles so that each person has a turn in each role.
After the activity is over, we have a discussion. Some of the questions we discuss include “Was it easier when you were leading or when you were following?” Most people will answer that if they have a good partner, it is easier to follow than to lead, because the person who is leading has to be responsible, the person following has no responsibility. Another question that is asked is “How easy is it to cede control to someone else in your life?” We discuss people that we cede control to in our lives—such as doctors and dentists who we trust to treat our bodies and our teeth. We cede control to an airplane pilot when we fly, to other drivers on the road, and to the cooks in a restaurant. Actually, we cede control more than we probably think we do. We do it a lot.
So a question is asked, “Do you have to cede total control in order to do a trust walk?” Most people think that answer is yes. Actually it isn’t. You have to cede control to allow someone to lead you around when you cannot see. But you actually control your participation in the event. You actually could stop at any time.
Today’s Bible verse is about Jesus healing a blind man. If you pay attention to Mark 8:23, you see that Jesus took the man by the hand and let him out of town, a biblical “trust walk.” The man allowed Jesus to lead. He made the choice to cede control, he made the choice to trust. And his choice was rewarded. He did not know where he was going, Jesus didn’t tell him the outcome of their walk. He didn’t tell the man when it would be over, or that he would end up seeing by the end of the day. The man had to trust. I wonder what went through this man’s mind. Was he worried that people were staring at him? Did he think that this was some kind of prank that might humiliate him? Did he think he would be healed? Did he concede “what do I have to lose?” The Bible doesn’t tell us about the man’s thoughts as he was being led, only that Jesus led and he followed. And that when the walk was over, that the man had been healed.
I often think of the Christian life as a large-scale version of the camp trust walk. Jesus is the leader. We are supposed to follow. But He doesn’t demand that we follow. He offers to lead, He asks us to trust. Our choice to follow is just that, a choice. We choose to follow. We choose to hold His hand, or we choose to let it go. When we let it go, we are like the wayward camper stumbling around the woods, more likely to hit a tree and get hurt than to find his or her way to the end. When we hold on to Christ, we can relax, because He is taking the responsibility. He is leading, we are merely following. My life has led me to be a priest—He made the call, I followed. I didn’t choose to be a priest in Tampa—He chose, I followed. Do I question where the journey is going to end? Sure, all the time. Do I ever question why He allows certain things to happen or not happen? Absolutely. Do I ever feel like just stopping? Sure, I have those moments too. But most of the time, I try to trust Him. I try to be a good follower of Christ. And when there is an opportunity to lead others to Christ, I try to be a responsible leader. I try to embrace both roles and I encourage you to do the same. It is okay to wonder where our walk is going. What we want to do most of all is remember the blind man—we know the end of the journey will be healing, in our case, ultimate healing in His heavenly kingdom. How we will get there, how long the journey will take, and what we will encounter along the way, we don’t know, just like the person who is blindfolded doing the trust walk. When doing the trust walk, I’ve never worried that it wouldn’t end, or that I might get hurt. I’ve just trusted and finished each time. In the Christian life, it is the same—we must trust in God, hold His hand, and trust that the end of the journey will be glorious and will make the journey worthwhile.
Lord, thank You for Your many blessings. Thank You for blessing me with talents and gifts. Thank You for forgiving me of my sins. Help me to trust in You. Take my hand and lead me where You wish for me to go. Help me in the moments when I don’t understand where the journey is taking me. Help me to trust in Your plan for my life. Be with me today in the steps I take in that plan. Amen.
Let God lead your life today!
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