Every wakeful Orthodox finds himself constantly striving to find the balance between necessarily having to be “in the world” (earning food, shelter, and clothing) and making the effort to escape it at every opportunity (rejecting a self-centered, entertainment-oriented existence in order to gain faith, virtue, and love). The world, the flesh, and the devil work ceaselessly to fill our minds with distraction: “Buy our product and you will be happy,” “accumulate riches and you will be satisfied,” “if it feels good do it,” and “there is no reason to rush, you can save your soul tomorrow.”
This bombardment of thoughts that separate us from God and our true self is to be countered with our own contemplation and prayer. “I am an immortal being. Where will I dwell eternally, heaven or hell?” “Some day I will surely die. What will my legacy of contribution be?” “Happiness is not found in material wealth or constant entertainment, but in sacrificial love.” And slowly, through prayer and patience and submission to traditional Christian life and thought, our life is pried from the grip of fallenness and we experience glimpses of authentic faith and life in Christ. And this authenticity transforms everything.
Suddenly a tired dad arrives home from work and feels relief in finally being able to escape the world and be where his joy is rooted: at home caring for his wife and children. Suddenly an overly busy mom surveys the landscape of her family’s life and sees the miracle of life which she has helped forge into existence. Suddenly a self-absorbed teenager has the life-changing realization that there is greater pleasure in serving others than in serving oneself. And a single person is suddenly overcome by the deep awareness that happiness does not come from a well-executed plan, but from what enters our lives providentially according to God’s will day to day.
In moments like these, life is momentarily illuminated with spiritual vision, and we see truth as true and an authentic reality. In church is where we need and want to be. Praying and fasting are the true exercises that lead to life and immortality. Raising our children deliberately and methodically as Christians and good citizens is a work worthy of great sacrifice. God’s will is in fact the perfect plan for our life and leads most directly to absolute fulfillment, joy, and satisfaction. In fact, most everything the world regards as an inconvenience is our very path to life.
When the light of Christ shines within us, we see that every day is another great day full of fantastic adventures. We are immortal beings determining our own course and destination. All around us is love, and life, and joy in the person of everyone we meet. And it’s getting better all the time . . . no matter what the world is whispering.
There’s a new star moving in the sky. Shall we follow it?