I want to go with you!
My daughters love to go places with daddy. It doesn’t really matter where I’m going; they just like to tag along. And that makes sense. After all, daddies buy candy!
There’s something comforting about being with Another Who is stronger than you and seems to know where He is going. There is something comforting in the surety, in the confidence that that sure direction brings. It seems safe, wise, and full of purpose.
But, it also presupposes a level of love, trust, and knowledge that requires something more than just being motivated by fear or insecurity. Because either of these motives always runs out of gas before the destination has been achieved. It’s like when my girls realize that there will be no candy this trip or that we’re going to someplace where daddy is going to have to be busy with a particular task that the childish (rather than childlike) immaturity gets the best of them and then here come the complaints, the tears, and the begging “But daddy, I don’t want to sit still. Please get me….”
In today’s Gospel Lesson the Lord Jesus is continuing His high priestly prayer in John 17:18-26. The Lord is about to face the Cross. He is going to be crucified. He is going to be buried. He is going to rise from the dead. He is going to ascend into heaven. But the disciples only see a mere glimpse of this plan and they are going to hit the wall of insecurity and fear and they are going to scatter instead of follow.
Look at the passage:
At that time, Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, “As you, Father, did send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.
“I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you; and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
You see, the disciples are not ready to enter into the Lord’s greatest desire for them to “become perfectly one.” They are going to have to pass through the crucible of the Lord’s death, the unbelievable joy of His resurrection, the awe-inspiring vision of His Ascension, AND the empowering Presence of the Holy Spirit before they can ever enter into the fullness of the Lord’s prayer for them today!
If we are ever going to be one as the Lord prayed; if we are ever going to be where He is and see Him in His glory, we are going to have to make that life-long journey based on building up our trust, confidence, and love for Christ that motivates us to stick with the journey even in the face of difficult moments. We are going to have to take the SAME PATH the first disciples took to get there! In fact, the very difficult moments of our lives become for us treasures of insight into our own places of immaturity and fear. These moments of temptation to give up or go back or just sit still and do nothing invite us to know ourselves and see those places where childishness has overcome a child-like faith and confidence.
Today, are you self-aware enough to realize that bumps in the road of your following Christ are wonderful moments of self knowledge that will help you in the future? Do you have a good relationship with a spiritual father that can help you diagnose those moments in your life so you can learn from them? When was the last time you went to confession and allowed the wisdom of the timeless faith to assist you in staying on the path? Today we mark the Leave-taking (Apodosis) of the Feast of the Ascension today. We were made to follow the Lord Jesus into heaven and be with Him in His glory. This path is clearly laid out. The Way is made plain. We stand at the threshold of the Feast of Pentecost where all the power we will ever need to stay on the path will be given to us. So, what do you say? Do you want to go? Do you want to be Orthodox on Purpose?
P.S. Sunday is the Feast of Pentecost, and if you’re in the Atlanta area, I want to invite you to Sts. Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene Greek Orthodox Church for our Feast of Pentecost service. Divine Liturgy starts at 10 AM and we will pray the “kneeling prayers” of Pentecost at the end of the Divine Liturgy. For more information about the parish go to www.stsrni.org. God bless.