My gut feeling is, that in that conversation there was not even the slightest mention of God as a part of that busy day. Think about the last time you talked with somebody else about the hectic day you’ve had. Am I right?
Here’s a question for us. In every day of our life, as a member of the ACRY, how does God fit in? I want that to be our thought for this evening! How does God fit into our life every day?
You know, most of us want others to see us as industrious and productive. At the same time, some of us try to earn God’s approval with our achievements. That means we have to be active all the time. I believe the problem with many people is that we don’t dare admit we’ve actually fit God into a hectic, mad-pace life. I know many people who would never admit spending time praying, or reading the bible, or just sitting quietly pondering God’s blessings in our life.
If that’s the case then, how does God fit in?
We get a very good answer to our question from the daily scripture for this past Thursday. On Thursday morning, the Gospel at liturgy was designated from the 6th chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel. Listen carefully to what we hear in Mark 6:31 – “come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile”. Those were Jesus’ words. He was not suggesting that the apostles take a vacation with him. Jesus spoke those words to the apostles after they had been teaching thousands of people for several days. Jesus told the apostles that they needed time with God... uninterrupted.
"Come aside by yourselves”. These are mysterious words as if a secret were about to be shared. “Come aside by yourselves”… That day on the shore of the sea of Galilee, Jesus shared the mysteries of the kingdom with the apostles! He told them spiritual secrets that had never been revealed before. To this day, when our ears hear God’s voice, he still shares the mysteries of the Kingdom with us. But for that to happen, we have to learn to set aside those quiet times and not let them be interrupted. We have to make “resting time” with God. We have to put God on our calendar daily. Go ahead……put God’s name on your calendar 365 times! Here’s why. Even when we barely manage to fit God into our busy schedules, God is there waiting to love us and help us! He holds no grudges against us. And he uses that “resting time” to renew us. Time spent with God recharges us. Every day, time spent with God revitalizes us.
You might say ‘I go to church. I attend ACRY meetings regularly. I go to the national convention and bowling tournament. Isn’t that time spent with God?’ It is, but if it’s the only time we spend with God, we come up really short. Some of us come to church every Sunday. Some of us don’t. Even if we do, is that still enough time spent with God? Even when we give him our Sundays, what about our Mondays? Are you shortchanging yourself without even realizing it?
I was listening to Glenn Beck on my car radio Wednesday morning. Listen to what he said: “I think I know why people don’t go to church on Sunday. If they don’t have God Monday through Saturday, why would they want him on Sunday?”
Simple answer, but true, isn’t it?
It never ceases to amaze me how little time we have for God, but how much time we have for everything else. We will sit at a Pirates baseball game in 90 degree heat for three hours on a Sunday afternoon at PNC park here in Pittsburgh, but one hour on Sunday morning in the air-conditioned church is too much. I have seen people stand for a half hour to buy a lottery ticket at a newspaper stand outdoors in all kinds of weather, but if there is more than 10 minutes waiting time in the confession line, we are impatient and grumbling. And by the way, statistically, you have a better chance to be struck six times by lightning and live, than you have a chance to win on a lottery ticket. Think about that the next time you are standing in line with your last $20 bill!
Jesus had busy days, but he always had time for God His Father. Let’s go back to the 6th chapter of Mark that I referred to earlier. In fact, this was the introduction to the Sunday gospel we heard seven Sundays ago. You remember the one. It tells about one day when Jesus taught from morning to night, fed 10,000 people miraculously with 5 little loaves of barley bread and 2 fish, walked on water, and saved Peter from drowning… all on the same day. The next day He healed hundreds – maybe thousands of people – who were brought to Him on beds and stretchers. Is it no wonder that Mark 6:31 tells us what he said to His apostles. We said it earlier: “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile”. They needed God to recharge them.
Did Jesus’ time alone in prayer with God his father help him set boundaries and establish priorities so he wasn’t swept along with the demands of life? It did! His time alone with God certainly did that! And it can work for you too.
Here are 10 marks of that kind of a life.
1. Spiritual focus. Even when he might have been tired, Jesus made time for God the Father. He prayed before he launched into his activities.
2. Compassionate care-giving. Jesus told us to love our neighbors. When we care for others, it takes up precious time. But it forces us to pull away from our busy schedules and keep our priorities in balance.
3. Building character. What are your most important values? Are you living that way?
4. Balance. We need the right mix of time for family, work, worship and relaxation. If we don’t work at keeping balance, one of those four will dominate everything else, and we have bad imbalance.
5. Purpose. Here’s a tough question. What is your purpose in life? A focus on life’s purposes helps us keep everything else in balance.
6. Teamwork. We cannot expect to have lives that are well-lived if we are lone-rangers who try to make things happen on our own. God did not call any one person to do everything. Even Jesus chose 12 disciples to carry out his work.
7. Adaptability. A lot of people have a problem adjusting to change. I have been an officer in the ACRY for a very long time. I know there has always been a resistance to change. Change is easier to handle if we plan ahead. Get the mindset to keep a positive attitude when we move in new directions.
8. Soul care. A lot of people are driven to succeed, driven to be perfect, driven to impress, driven to get everything done. Slow down and remember that God is in control! Determine what his will is for your life.
9. Growth. Sometimes we are so busy that we have no time for anything except us. We need to take time to reflect on what God has in mind for us.
10. Hope. Keep a big perspective. Remember that we have only one life to live, and only one life to give. Think of these words of C.S. Lewis: “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were Christians who thought most about the next world”.
I’d like you to associate these lessons with this convention. Remember you heard them in Pittsburgh. And remember this important question that only you can answer: “How does God fit into my life?”.
Very Rev. Protopresbyter Frank P. Miloro
Keynote address at the Grand Banquet of the 66th National ACRY Convention, September 5, 2010. Northside Pittsburgh