Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Struggle Today

Has anyone ever lived a hedonistic, sinful life where Self was on the throne and then made the about face, repenting, turning towards Life? Has anyone who has been repenting ever regret the new life, with its sometimes austerity, deprivations and pine for the old life, relishing its lusts, its memories, its wantonness? Has anyone been at those moments, having decided to believe on Him, placing faith in Him, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, having tasted of the Lord, that He is good, the Lover of mankind, and still desire Egypt? Has anyone desired Egypt, knowing what awaits those who have an evil heart of unbelief who depart from the living God, that if sin is willfully committed after having received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sin remains?
Such a day I had.
Having undertaken to be counted among His disciples, by necessity much of my old life with all of its desires, aspirations, and thoughts has to be crucified that I may decrease and He increase. I must continually be made weak that He may be strong in me. There is just one problem: I don't like this. I like my former self. Had I not begun to realize the futility of this life, I would still be living it. I did not realize it though through some inherent, internal capacity to do so, but the weight of circumstances pressed upon me, bringing me to my knees, where there was no other choice.
In the midst of this new life, hidden pockets of joy are unveiled by our Lord, buttressing my flagging spirit. Because being being transformed the metamorphosis is not yet complete, the new man is not always comfortable to wear, the old man is familiar, he's snug, he fits me just right, for after all, I made him.
This new man has been created in Christ, according to His will. He cannot be put on by the force of our Lord, for He never imposes Himself on me. I must put Him on. I must be willing to die. It cannot be done for me. Here is freedom. Here is choice. Can't anyone else do this for me? Someone? I don't want freedom. I don't want choice.
The way ahead is dark, because I hold no light. I am told He is the Light. Traveling through this world of shadows, I am told He is the Way. Him, not some static, exterior to myself system that will encourage my Ego, "There, there, every thing's going to be all right, you're doing just fine." To tell the truth, I'm not doing just fine, I'm not so swell after all. I cannot see Him, I can only"see" Him, not directly, but with the eyes of my soul, but I don't know how to use these eyes that well yet, they are untrained and they are restrained in favor of the old man living his life, refusing to come to the Cross to be crucified.
So on this day of Great and Holy Lent, it's third Tuesday in 2007, a day of fasting from foods for the body and lusts for the senses and the mind, I write these things, just to air out these thoughts, hoping once again upon Him, for hope in me is dwindling.

8 comments:

Dixie said...

Are you sure you are not a desert father masquerading as a blogger? ;) This was a great post and one I can certainly relate to. The eyes of my heart are blind most days...but occasionally I am allowed glimpses of the Light and they are worth everything.

It's hard...I know. And Lent seems to put a magnifying glass over us and set us out in the sun. A co-worker comes in with another crisis and all I want is a hunk of cheese!

WELCOME, to the blogosphere! Looking forward to reading more from you.

Sophocles said...

Dixie,

Thank you for your warm welcome. It's nice to share ourselves with fellow pilgrims and to encourage one another, as we so need each other to see ourselves.
I wish you and your family a blessed journey through Great and Holy Lent and I will continue to follow your thoughts on your blog as well.

In fellowship and in Christ,

Constantine said...

Very thoughtful post Sophocles, thank you. I guess I can relate too. One way to know when we are on the right path is to follow those who have gone before. It's amazing that there is a complete uninimity in Orthodox thought starting with the Old Testament through today. I believe that you have to humble yourself to see it though. Thats why people outside of The Church cannot understand why we don't budge from Orthodoxy.

Sophocles said...

Dear Constantine,

Thank you for your comments. Yes, one of the(many) glories of Orthodoxy is this seamless whole which I agree only through humility can it be seen and then in only a very small part, which keeps us necessarily hungry to keep returning to fed continually.

Joel said...

As always, you magnify Christ in your struggle to overcome the desires of the flesh. In our weakness His power is perfected. Your spirituality is true and deep and sorely missed as a part of my daily life. Thank God for the ability to stay in touch so easily anymore. I have recently become acutely aware of how few friends I have who are devoted Christians. I do not even know a single other person in Anchorage that is fasting for Lent and people I talk to think I am ridiculous when I speak about it, I am considered a fanatic! Your blog is a breath of fresh air and a I am grateful for the contact with the Tradition I love so much.

Sophocles said...

Dear Joel,

I miss you sorely as well my friend. Your friendship honed me, you helped sharpen my focus to grope a little more diligently for Him.
Please do not be discouraged. The fellowship you crave will materialize about you as you stay faithful to Him. Just wait. It will be amazing.

Belladonna said...

Sophocles,

These words so touched my soul. Although I am not Orthodox, I have dearly loved friends who are. They have introduced me to the life of St. Mary of Egypt who I consider my patron saint in many ways. I've read the biography of Fr. Seraphim Rose and learned much there as well. I have a little booklet on Repentence by Elder Ephraim that I purchased at St. Anthony's monastery in AZ... all these things weave together with my own faith traditions as I journey my own walk of a sinner seeking the light.
In my own faith tradition there is a story of a prophet who had a vision of people pursuing a path to a tree bearing white fruit that represented the love of God. Some of the people ate of the fruit and were filled with light, were grateful, were blessed. But others ate of the fruit and then looked into the distance and saw a large and spacious building with laughing, mocking people that represented the pride of the world. Some of these people longed go to that building, so fell away... others left the path because they were embarrassed or ashamed by the ridicule of the people in that palace.

I pray daily that I might hold firmly to the iron rod (word of god) that leads to the fruit, that I will remain true. But yes, many of us sinners still are caught up in the natural man, looking longingly back at our old lives and wistfully wishing for the enticements there.

Repentence is not a grand event we accomplish and then go merrily on our way from. It is a daily struggle, sometimes hour by hour, minute by minute.

I think of the line "trampling out death by death" and turn to the Jesus Prayer when I feel myself waver.

May your Lenten journey be blessed.

Sophocles said...

Dear Belladonna,

Thank you so much for your kind words. Interestingly, I was just on Papa Herman's blog and saw your post after mine in the comments box. I meandered over to your blog and just read your post on Orthodoxy.
I hope you visit again soon and maybe we could have some good discussions as I relate with many of your interests on your profile.