Faith Column: A personal invitation
The desktop of my computer is covered with various files in which I organize my work. I have a “personal” file, where I keep personal items. I have a church file, where I keep various documents having to do with my parish work, I have picture files, sermon files, calendar files, financial files, music files – the list goes on.
We all organize our lives in similar ways. We have our work lives, our family lives, our social lives and our recreational lives. We keep day-timers and schedules. We compartmentalize the various areas of our lives to make it easier to manage and stay on top of the complexity of daily life. And yet, daily living seems to grow increasingly complicated in spite of a myriad of technological advances that promise to make things easier!
St. Augustine, the 4th century Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, once said, “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they find their rest in Thee.” St. Augustine knew that we, as human beings, are first and foremost created to be in relationship with God. Our nature, our purpose, our reason for being, is to be in relationship with the One who created us out of love to be in relationship with Him. Every pursuit, everything we do, finds its balance and fulfillment in relation to God. When our hearts, the center of our being, are not “resting” in God, we find ourselves aimlessly moving from one pursuit after another, like a ship without a rudder, hoping to find “rest” – searching for something or someone to anchor our lives.
Our faith in Christ is not another file among many on our desktops. Being a Christian is not about keeping our faith in its own “religious” compartment. To be a follower of Christ is to place our whole life in His hands, trusting in His love and grace. To be a Christian is to know that our lives only find their rest, their harmony and their fulfillment in Him.
It’s easy to do the “religious thing” – to go to church on Sundays, maybe a Bible study on Wednesday nights – and to miss that following Jesus is a daily, moment-by-moment commitment. Being a Christian is not one activity or pursuit alongside all the others of our lives. Rather, it is placing all other pursuits, all other commitments under His direction.
The biblical word for such an orientation of one’s whole life toward God is repentance, from the Greek, metanoia. It literally means, a change of mind – a change of heart. It is a total re-direction of our desires, our passions and our pursuits, towards God. When our hearts are so re-directed, we find our restlessness ceases. We discover we have finally arrived at home, after the long journey of our wanderings. And we find that every aspect of our lives finds its balance, as all we are and all we do is rightly related to God. All of this is by God’s gift to us in Christ. He invites us to come home and to find our hearts’ rest. Our part is to merely turn towards Him, and begin the journey home. It begins with a simple “yes” to His invitation.
Fr. David Henderson is the father at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church on Green Street.
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Just like you, I live with the fear of wildfire. My southern Oregon town of Ashland nestles against the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains, whose forests become tinder in our hot, dry summers.