All too often we spend our lives waiting for that perfect moment when everything’s going “right” and all around me is positive and affirming. And, the longer we live, the more disillusioned we become because that “moment” seems to never come!
Oh, to be sure, there are flashes of “just right” in our lives. Those moments when all the traffic lights are green when you’re in a hurry to get some place. The kids get up and get themselves dressed after having let you sleep in on a Saturday morning. Sure, there are times like that. But what about the everyday peace we so long to experience? It just always seems to be just beyond my grasp. And it never fails, things are all rocking along fine and then “boom” out of no where comes an unexpected challenge that throws me off balance and into “panic” mode!
How do we overcome the “Valley and Peak” yo-yo existence that keeps me exhausted and addicted to either despondency or ellation?
Well, perhaps the first step in the escape from that pattern of perpetual up and down in my life is the realization that both of these places; up and down; are simply not real! The truth is every time I’m either “up” or “down” I’m so easily intoxicated with the fantasy that “things will always be this way.” And that simply isn’t true.
In our Gospel Lesson today in John 14:1-11 our Lord Jesus gives us particularly helpful insight into keeping our hearts untroubled by the external circumstances that constantly desire to run our lives. Look here:
The Lord said to his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me.”
Let’s set the scene: The Lord is spending His last days with the Apostles before His crucifixion in Jerusalem. In John 13 He washes the disciples’ feet, and what follows is His teaching them the foundational lessons of how to live His teachings after He ascended into heaven. Pretty important stuff to know!
He gives the disciples three insights into keeping their hearts from being “troubled.”
First the Lord assures His disciples that the Father’s House is big enough for all of them. Our hearts are troubled, disturbed, filled with doubt and fear, when we allow the doubts of life to drown out the promises of the Lord. Christ knows His disciples are about to face the most terrifying time of their lives. He is going to the cross, and they will have to face the reality of His crucifixion and all the fear that this will bring. So the Lord assures them that the present troubles aren’t worth abandoning their relationship with Him. They will always have a place with Him and they are not without a home!
Next the Lord assures His disciples that the Father’s Word is trustworthy. Jesus tells His followers that their confidence in Him is because He has shown them the Father. And knowing Him and following Him means that the Father is known to them as well. This promise that Jesus reveals the Father (the Uncreated God) means that His disciples’ intimacy with the Lord is also an intimacy with Him Who made all things. And it is this familiarity with the Father that sets His disciples free from worry about present circumstances, no matter how hard or how scary they are!
Finally the Lord assures His disciples that the Father’s Presence is unchanging. In spite of their questions and concerns (“Lord, show us the Father” “Lord, we do not know where You are going” “Lord, show us the Father”) the Lord reinforces that He and the Father are hand in hand in this work to destroy death, and His victory will be shared with all who wisely stay connected with Him. And this communion will mean that the Lord’s followers will never lack God’s Presence in their lives because of their communion with Jesus.
Today, in facing the toughest moments in life, our refusal to break communion with our Lord guarantees a source of strength, hope, and love that will help us keep our focus on the end of our life’s journey and not get caught up in the present worry of troubling times. And it is this very confidence that cause those around us to ask “Why are you able to keep your joy even during bad times?” We will have the answer in our faithfulness to Him Who has gone ahead to prepare a place for us. Our faith guarantees a “home” for our lives forever. And all because we commit to being Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. On a new Faith Encouraged LIVE program this Sunday we will talk about how best to share this faith with those around us. My special guest, Adam Roberts, is working on a wonderful tool to help us fulfill the Lord’s command to us all to be witnesses for Him. Plus, an exciting opportunity will be announced Sunday night to provide your parish with outreach resources that can help you share this joy with others. That’s this Sunday night at 8 PM Eastern on ancientfaith.com