You’ve met people like this before. You know the ones that I mean. They are the folks who seem to always have a comeback for anything you say. “It’s a cloudy day today.” “Yes, but the sun will be shining soon.” They are so positive it makes you sick to be around them. Why diabetics have to take an extra shot if they know these folks are going to be around.
Of course, you’ve met these folks’ opposites too. I call that the “Eeyore” syndrome. You know who I mean. “What a beautiful day!” “Yeah, but it’ll probably rain later. Yeah, the reason why both these types of people get under my skin is because they strike me as inauthentic. Both ends of the spectrum lead to the fantasy of either elation or despondency, and real wisdom always lies in the sober escape of both of these extremes.
Just look at our Lesson today in Isaiah 65:8-16:
Thus says the LORD: “As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, ‘Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,’ so I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all. I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains; my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me. But you who forsake the LORD, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny; I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer, when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes, and chose what I did not delight in.” Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, my servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; behold, my servants shall rejoice, but you shall be put to shame; behold, my servants shall sing for gladness of heart, but you shall cry out for pain of heart, and shall wail for anguish of spirit. You shall leave your name to my chosen for a curse, and the Lord GOD will slay you; but his servants he will call by a different name. So that he who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth, and he who takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hid from my eyes.
St. Isaiah is dealing with a nation who was suppose to be the example to the whole world of a nation that put God first; that followed God’s wisdom and shared God’s light with everyone. But it certainly didn’t turn out that way for the nation of Israel of Isaiah’s day. The nation had become complacent, and their devotion to God was more lip service and “good intentions” rather than actually practicing the faith. So God spoke to Isaiah and told him to the the people the truth. And that wasn’t all that pleasant a job, let me tell you!
But Isaiah was faithful and told the people the truth. Ands since the truth was meant to sober them up and have them deal with reality, that meant the message was both good news AND bad news. The Good News was that God wasn’t going to wipe out the nation for their unfaithfulness, but that He was going to find those few who were genuinely committed to the reality of the Faith and bless them! As for the others, well, they weren’t going to fare so well. In the end, it was going to be abundantly clear who was the wise person and who was the foolish person.
Today, are you tempted by the extremes of life? Do you find your life gripped by either the illusion of elation or despondency? Just know that both of these extremes are fantasies. They aren’t real. What is real is the sober realization that the only life with “a blessing in it” is the life that rightly prioritizes faith first so that the rest of life makes sense! It’s why being Orthodox on Purpose is the first job of any believer.
P.S. What a joy that we have a Faith that leads us to a sober and balanced life! Do you know someone who could use that kind of Faith in their lives? Do you know how to share this Faith with others? Well, that’s the reason we are creating the video teaching series called “A Journey to Fullness” to give our parishes a tool to share this faith with others. Would you consider a special Paschal gift for this project. We have an additional funding gap of about $10,000 to finish this project and get it to our communities. Just go to JourneytoFullness.com and make a special Paschal gift to the project today. Thank you!