ANCHORED TO THE INFINITE
by Fr. Michael Baroudy
We live at a time in human history when everything seems to be undergoing a change. There is nothing insofar as our world is concerned, of which you can say with any degree of certainty, will never change. With conflicting political views, the uncertainty and instability of economic conditions, the fear of a world-wide conflict, all seem to conspire in making almost everyone agitated. A person would give his shirt, as the saying goes, to know what would be the outcome of the present-day upheaval. No one would dare make any plans regarding the future because of the prevailing uncertainty of our time.
People nowadays sit by their television sets listening to mysteries of one kind or another, but the greatest of all mysteries is the time in which we live. This national state of mind is not healthy, rather it is morbid for it breeds in us all kinds of abnormal thoughts, fear, hate, suspicion, and confusion. People today are becoming serious-minded by the hour: the laughter and the smiles necessary to healthy minds and healthy spirits are becoming less and less manifest. To be light-hearted nowadays and take things philosophically and soberly would be considered strange. There is no use or point in denying the fact that worry is a word we hear on almost every lip. These things and many more are helping to undermine the peace of mind necessary to getting the most out of life. What should be the attitude of a Christian in the face of the present-day struggle? How may we as a group of religious people, hope to win over such tremendous odds?
We find the answer to these questions in our Lord’s masterful plan for our lives, the blueprint and pattern for victorious living.
We cannot deny the fact that these changes constitute challenges of a serious nature to all of us, for we know that somehow, some way they must be met. Though nothing offers us any security or refuge from the raging storm, nothing seems to help, yet of one thing we can be absolutely sure, the certainty of God, the abidingness of the Almighty. Said the inspired writer: “Thou, O Lord, remainest forever, thy throne from generation to generation.” To the inspired and initiated, these words are more precious than gold. The man of faith is not frightened by these external circumstances because his faith is not subject to changes of any nature. He looks beyond this world realizing that he is anchored to the Infinite. He knows that God remains faithful no matter who is faithless.
When Jesus first met his disciples, his words to them were: “Follow me.” He did not reveal to them what his plan for them was: they were to take one step at a time and as they followed, his plan was to be unfolded to them. What are we to do when the storm of life beats upon the ship of our faith? We are to follow the Master who ever goes before his people, leading them by the hand, guiding their every effort. Sometimes the going is tough; we must follow no matter what the cost. We are not promised that life will be easy, though we are having Christ as our companion, but we may be absolutely certain that with Him we shall triumph over trouble, we will be gloriously blessed.
Most of us believe in God, but many of us are not comforted by that faith. We are inclined to believe that God cannot do too much about the problems which beset mankind since the world is so near the verge of disaster. We think that we live in a world treated by God but we are not at all sure that He is the Lord of history. Therefore, we are inclined to take a hopeless view of the present situation. We ought to be able to see that because of the very fact that God is the Lord of history, He allows selfish men and nations to break themselves against His laws. Only those who love and cooperate achieve security and peace of mind. So be sure, my dear friends, that you are anchored to the Infinite and that these holy ties are unbreakable. Then rest assured that come what may, nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ. St. Paul assures us that, ”Our lives are hid with Christ in God.” Can you imagine greater security than that, can you visualize the immense significance of these words! Confident living comes from confident faith. Only when our faith degenerates, when we become fearful and permit other matters to take the place of faith in our hearts, do we go down in defeat.
A serviceman asked that the Shepherd Psalm be sung at his wedding. “Because it meant so much to me when things were rough over there. It got me through many hard spots.” A woman was heard to repeat “The Lord is my Shepherd …“ as she was coming out of the anesthesia after an operation. “Sometimes when I am worried and can’t sleep, I repeat the twenty-third Psalm, and a weight seems to fall from my mind. Then I go right to sleep,” said a young girl who had seen much trouble. These people had something in common. They had reached a place where “figuring the angles” for themselves no longer worked. Their future was no longer in their own hands. At last, like children, they had turned to One stronger and wiser than they. To One whom they could trust. Then they felt secure in the knowledge that whatever comes, they would still be in God’s care.
One other thing which each of us should realize is that man is God’s sole agent in the world, to whom He delegated the authority and the responsibility to live, labor and love and to manifest by his life and his lips how a man of faith should behave. His is the responsibility to reveal that men everywhere are bound by a bond of brotherhood. The peace of the world depends upon you and me. If the tensions that drive nations to war against each other are to be reduced, each one of us will have to do something about the matter. The situation is now so serious and gigantic that every man alive must work for peace.
What can we do? Pray daily, for patience and understanding. By your own personal relations with others reflect the kind of world in which you want to live, the kind of world in which all mankind may find peace and security. If the nations could trust one another, if they would cooperate in programs designed to give the world security, we would have peace in our time. How can nations do this if their individual citizens do not live this way in their families, their neighborhoods, and their business relations? To have security, integrity, kindness and, cooperation, you must live that way yourself. Then other men will see your light and glorify your Father in Heaven and unite to work for His Kingdom on this earth.
Yes, the Christian faith and heritage are privilege as well as responsibility. It is no small matter to realize our connection, the ties which bind us to the Eternal. Christ, on the fateful night, immediately before His betrayal, trial and crucifixion, challenged His disciples with these words. “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” This is our obligation to Him, to manifest His undying love. His patience, kindness, gentleness, and to breathe His peace to a world infused with hate and suspicion. Indeed, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
Why do we not have peace on earth? Surely God takes no pleasure in the ongoing slaughter of his children and the plundering of his planet. He wills peace on earth, and men everywhere profess to want it. Why then do wars continue?
It is easy to point the finger of blame at this leader, that party, this statesman, that nation. But let us begin with ourselves and search our own lives. Let me ask myself: How much do I want peace? What am I willing to give up for it? How much money do I contribute in a year to spreading good will? How much time will I be giving this week to wage peace on earth? Am I ready to yield an unholy patriotism that perpetuates war? Have I disarmed myself of fear and hatred of other nations?
A high school girl in a summer camp said that we should build love bombs, not A-bombs. That idea might well be given A-l priority in the thinking of Christians!
Seven British Quakers asked for the privilege of visiting behind the “iron curtain”. What did they find? Much that they disapproved of, but also much that warmed their hearts. They mingled courteously with the people and were met with courtesy in return. They spoke their minds in a frank but friendly manner, and drew forth frank but friendly words in response. They worshipped with 30,000 Greek Orthodox Christians at an annual festival. They also worshipped with 1800 Protestants in a week-night service. “Never before,” wrote one in his diary, “and perhaps never again, shall I experience so close a realization of the presence of the living God.”
They found, as they expected, that for Christians there is no “iron curtain”, that he who “hath broken down the middle wall of partition,” doesn’t put individuals or nations behind mental barbed wire.
From Word Magazine
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America