Steadfast AND Active!Fr. Barnabas Powell
“He’s steady as a rock!” With those words, the person giving the reference for this potential hire gave a strong and satisfied look to the potential employer. And she was right. The guy got the job. You see, everyone wants stability. But is that enough? After all, graveyards are “stable!”
What if there was a way to live a life that was both Stable AND Dynamic? Sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. It’s just that we humans are so addicted to our extremes, we have been made blind to the purposeful path of “nepsis” or wakefulness.
Look at our lesson today in James 5:10-20:
BRETHREN, take as an example of suffering and patience the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we call those happy who were steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your yes be yes and your no be no, that you may not fall under condemnation. Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit. My brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Our beloved Apostle James is writing the churches in what is called one of the “general epistles” and reveals to us the “royal” path to a dynamic peace. And it all has to do with an inner mindset that produces a freedom to deal with life as it is AND to experience joy at the same time.
St. James reveals three clear inner attitudes that produce a “steadfast” and active life,
First, Know God! This attitude of intimacy with God sets my life free to be both faithful and effective. It is as I prioritize my relationship with God at the top of my priorities that makes my life steady and joyful. Knowing God sets me free from the panic of the moment, no matter what life throws at me. When I invest my best energies and actions in knowing God, I discover the solid ground strong enough to be the foundation of a fulfilled life. And knowing God ALWAYS means prioritizing my time to spend with God! ALWAYS. In other words – Go to Church!
Second, Know Yourself. One of the most powerful results of focusing my best energies to know God is the result that I begin to know myself. Because God IS the Light, my intimate and growing relationship with Him helps me discover myself, warts and all. And that means I can see clearly into my own heart the areas that need the grace of God to heal! This makes it possible for me to not be confused by life or fall into delusion. My “yes” is always “yes” and my “no” is always “no.” I pray when I suffer and I sing when I’m happy. My insides match my outsides!
Finally, Know Others. This knowing God and myself, far from making me insular and singular, drives me to communion. This is the power of the Church in my life. I am not set adrift to discover God and myself by myself. I am in a communion of persons, starting with my family, and extending itself into my parish and then my Church. I am part of a community that has mutual responsibility and joy in seeing me and all around me come to peace!
Today, is your life stable? Is your life joyful? The path to both of these wonderful gifts from God, lie in your willingness to begin each day with the attitudes that lead you to be Orthodox on Purpose!