Sometimes it’s just time to move. I mean there comes a time in your life when the day has passed for contemplation, planning, and consideration and the time comes to act and act fast.
But you are never going to be ready for that moment in your life without preparation. And that preparation takes three distinct disciplines to make you ready to move when the time comes.
No one is able to be agile if they aren’t mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared.
Look at our lesson today in Acts 12:1-11:
About that time, Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword; and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church.
The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Wrap your mantle around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him; he did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel left him. And Peter came to himself, and said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
There are three disciplines that made it possible for St. Peter to be ready to move when the time came! Just like an athlete, the person ready to act in any given situation has already prepared for that defining moment through Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. These three disciplines make the disciple of Jesus ready at all times to act and react to both opportunities and threats.
Prayer creates intimacy with God so that you hear Him clearly giving you direction and encouragement. Prayer, both corporate and personal, trains the soul to hear God and obey God. Prayer is the absolute essential training discipline to make you ready to move when the time is right! Without it, you’ll miss your moment.
Fasting makes the soul agile and swift. It disciplines the passions to be trained to know that the soul connected to God is the master of life, not my immediate desires. Because when my passions rule me, I am lethargic and dull. Fasting heals my inner self and strengthens my memory of the central need of my life – communion with God. With this discipline, I am spiritually fit. Without it, well a flabby soul is never ready to move when the time is right!
Almsgiving is the path to liberty for my heart. My ability to hold my possessions loosely will make me ready for any situation in life. No created thing holds my devotion more than my devotion to God. With the discipline of almsgiving, I train my whole self to value God and His Gospel more than any other possession in my life. When I know how to be generous with my physical treasures I am ready to respond to whatever life throws at me as a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Until I learn this discipline of “generosity” I will be weighed down by my possessions and my fears for my future as if I, alone, are responsible for my well being.
Today, what prison do you find yourself in at this moment? What fear keeps you chained to the twin “guards” of “doubt” and “pride?” Begin practicing these three disciplines and you will find the wisdom of God there so you will be ready to “Get up quickly” and escape the slavery that keeps you from becoming who you really are! Do this and you’ll be Orthodox on Purpose.