A Level PlaceFr. Barnabas Powell
It seems everyone has a friend like my friend. He was always either on the top of the mountain emotionally or in the pit of despair. His mood swings were huge and usually unhealthy. Finally, he came to me and confessed he was exhausted with the constant up and down of his life and asked for help.
What I told him made him excited and scared. I offered to him an insight into living life with a steady rhythm, an even pace. I told him that wisdom was meant to help him not allow life to take him too high or too low, because both of those extremes are delusions. They aren’t real and they don’t reflect reality. They are lying to you! I introduced him to an Orthodox way of life that was meant to even out his rollercoaster living.
Look at our lesson today in Luke 6:17-23:
At that time, Jesus stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.”
Notice Jesus stands on a “level place.” Of course this was practically important to be able to speak to so many people. But it also reveals the Lord’s wisdom in knowing only a level place will allow you to maintain your balance, accomplish your tasks, and be a firm support for others. Without that “level place” the Lord couldn’t do what He came to do!
And the Crowd surely needed Him. They needed a Rock balanced and sturdy because their lives were anything but that! They were sick physically and spiritually, and their sickness left them off balance, confused, scared, angry, and grasping for any glimmer of hope. They needed stability. So Jesus stood on a “level place” so He could heal them.
Then He taught them that they are blessed when their challenges are stepping stones for them to wake up to their need for God. Blessed are the poor, the hungry, those who weep, those who are hated, because these are the challenges that very well invite you to wake up to your need for balance and stability AND these very challenges reveal to you a fundamental insight you must have if you’re ever going to become stable – You need Help to get to where you need to be!
The whole of the Orthodox Way of life is about that interplay between realizing you need mercy and grace and the joyous message that God gives that to you everyday. The waking up and the moving on in the rhythm of the Faith constantly has us saying “Lord have mercy” AND “Glory to God for all things.” The wisdom of a purposeful practice of the Faith in her daily routine of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, gives me a rhythm of life meant to counteract the chaos of an unbalance living that only sends my life to the extremes and never to peace.
Today, do you want to have that peaceful, sober life? It won’t come by wishing for it or even dreaming of it. It comes when you finally want the rollercoaster to stop and ask for a lifestyle of living on a level place. It comes from being Orthodox on Purpose.