I am always amazed at my own blindness to what I say I believe when my life is flooded with fear. I don’t just talk about this in the “big problems” of my life. That’s too easy to see. No, I’m talking about those everyday challenges that flood my moments with a hypocrisy that really shocks me about myself.
Do I have your attention?
Just thinking about one such moment in my own life of a few days ago, I am increasingly grateful to God for such insight. Let me say quickly, I don’t write about these personal details of my own life to scandalize you or to tempt you to lose respect for the priesthood, but to display to you that all of us really do, and MUST, struggle with applying our faith we say we believe to our everyday life! The moment I’m thinking about has to do with my little three year old daughter. As usual, I am pressed for time. And my job each day is to get her up, get her dressed and off to her pre-school. She was being a typical three year old, easily distracted and talking up a storm! And I was allowing myself to get increasingly frustrated with getting her shoes on her feet, to the point I raised my voice to her to “calm down!” Isn’t that stupid? Yelling at a child to calm down when the adult INS”T calm at all! Where is my faith in that moment? Where is all this beautiful theology in the flood of emotions, fears, aggravations, and distress of real life?
Let’s face it, if my theology doesn’t heal me in these moments, why am I somehow convinced this theology will help me during the “big” challenges of my life? No, dear one, this faith is meant to heal me when I’m putting shoes on my little girl. This is precisely when my faith should and MUST be practiced! And this is precisely why the Church calls me to the humble prayer of “Lord, have mercy.” My Orthodoxy must be Orthodoxy here or it will not be a strong Orthodoxy when life throws really big challenges at me.
This is just what the Lord is teaching His disciples in today’s Gospel Lesson. Yesterday we talked about a lonely place where we can rest and recuperate. In today’s Lesson the Lord Himself does this very thing and He sends His disciples ahead of Him (as He always does even to this day) to prepare for the next portion of His ministry. He goes to His “lonely place” to pray. And the Disciples get in their boat to cross the lake to the other side where the Lord will minister when He joins them later.
Look at Mark 6:45-53. We will quote a portion: And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw him, and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” And he entered the boat with them and the wind ceased. Mark 6:47-51
Notice the disciples were “making headway painfully…” What a perfect description of my own spiritual struggles to grow up in the faith! Then notice the Lord was walking on the water and “He meant to pass by them” in verse 48. “Pass by them?” Really? Yes, the Lord saw they were making headway painfully; He saw they were struggling, but they WERE struggling. They hadn’t given up even though the “wind was against them.” They were making progress in the face of adversity! So, the Lord saw all was proceeding and He meant to “pass by them” so He could greet them when they arrived at their destination. But the disciples weren’t afraid of the challenge as much as they were afraid at seeing the Lord walking on the water! Jesus shook the disciples awake to their reality and told them that it was Him and He got into the boat with them and the wind was calm!
Today, are you struggling to apply your faith to the small places in your life? Good. Struggle on. Don’t think that great progress in your spiritual life will be accomplished by being “rescued” in challenges great or small, but see the straining to be what you say you are as THE path to that spiritual strength you need to face all of life as a faithful believer. And don’t be afraid when you see the Lord passing by to take you to the next place in your spiritual growth! Rejoice that He is always moving ahead of you to get the next phase of your spiritual growth ready ALL FOR YOUR BENEFIT! You are so loved! You are so capable! You are called to allow your faith to calm the strong winds of everyday life by knowing He is with you and is preparing the Way for you! Look around and you will see Jesus standing on the storms of your life, moving to the next victory for your life!