Wednesday, July 11, 2007

with tears and sighs

Oh the irony! Last Sunday in our discipleship hour, which is basically Sunday school on steroids, we were looking at Acts 10. Our pastor commented on how God sometimes works unexpectedly and in very real and obvious ways. We were then asked to mention a time when God spoke to us in a very real, obvious, and unexpected way. I had nothing. Those questions always clear my mind.


This morning, however, was a different story. I don’t want to get into all the knitty gritty details about the stuff of my life, and so I won’t. I will say that I prayed for God to make Himself known to me today because I really needed to know that He was there. I think I used words about feeling God’s glory (density, thickness, weightiness), which in Kansas City right now would be a nice change from the humidity. I prayed that in all things I would know that the lamb has overcome the world (much thanks to the John’s apocalypse). And then I read this in the Philokalia:

“‘God does not want us to be lying idly on our backs; therefore he does not effect everything for Himself. Nor does He want us to be boastful; therefore He does not give us everything. But having taken away from each of the two alternatives which is harmful, He has left us what is for our own good.’ Truly does the Psalmist say: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain that build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain’ (Ps. 127:1). For it is impossible to ‘tread on the asp of basilisk and trample on the lion and the dragon’ (Ps. 91:13. LXX), unless you have first cleansed yourself as far as you can, and have been strengthened by Him who said to the apostles: ‘See, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and on the enemy’s power’ (Luke 10:19). It is on this account that we have been commanded to entreat the master not to ‘lead us into temptation, but to deliver us from the evil one’ (Matt. 6:13). For if we are not delivered from ‘the fiery arrows of the evil one’ (Eph. 6:16) through the power and help of Christ, and found worthy of attaining dispassion, we are labouring in vain, thinking that through our own powers or efforts we shall accomplish something. Therefore, he who wishes to ‘to stand against the wiles of the devil’ (Eph. 6:11) and render them ineffectual, and share in the divine glory, ought day and night to seek God’s help and divine succour with tears and sighs, with insatiable longing and fire in his soul. He who wishes to share in this glory purges his soul of all worldly pleasure and hostile passions and desires. It is of such souls that God speaks when He says: ‘I will dwell in them and walk with them’ (2 Cor. 6:16). And the Lord said to His disciples: ‘If a man loves me, he will keep my commandments; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and take up Our abode with him’ (John 14:23).”

St. Theodoros The Great Ascetic, A Century of Spiritual Texts

Of particular note, consider this again: “Therefore, he who wishes to ‘to stand against the wiles of the devil’ (Eph. 6:11) and render them ineffectual, and share in the divine glory, ought day and night to seek God’s help and divine succour with tears and sighs, with insatiable longing and fire in his soul. He who wishes to share in this glory purges his soul of all worldly pleasure and hostile passions and desires.”

Did I forget to mention that I had not read the Philokalia in months and that this was the first passage I read this morning? Needless to say, I did not need to read on.

I think I sometimes rely too much on coffee to be found a faithful disciple. Nonetheless, hostile passions creep in more than I would care for, but God has overcome the world! And so I will toil on.

3 comments:

urbanmonk said...

you've been tagged

Matthew said...

This is real good stuff. Thanks, brother.

Scott Savage said...

Thanks Matt!