Wednesday, September 10, 2014


It's not even the middle of September, and here I am already yearning for Yom Kippur. Other days will get in the way—and I will take them as they come—but what I heard on the evening of the Day of Atonement, October 12, 2005, stays with me, especially as the day draws near.   

So much has happened in the years since then, that my ‘conversation’ takes on an almost mythic aspect. In short, this is what happened…

After pondering for many days my life and where it had led me, I went into my arbor (pictured above) and presented to the Lord an account of it. I was very, very sorry, not despairing, but hopeful that the Lord would accept my repentance and accept me, even me, back into His fold, and let me begin to serve Him.

Sure, I went to church and up to that day had probably never missed a Sunday service. Sure, I did all the ‘expected’ things, and even some volunteer work. But over the years, my cowardice in answering the call of Christ to the extraordinary life had resulted in a life with little or no fruit. The extraordinary—‘perissós’—comes from Matthew, in Greek…

εαν ασπασησθε τους φιλους υμων μονον τι περισσον ποιειτε; ουχι και οι τελωναι ουτως ποιουσιν
And if ye should salute your brethren only, what do ye extraordinary? Do not also the Gentiles the same?

Matthew 5:47 Darby

So, although I had lived the first 30 years of my Christian life as an unprofitable servant, I asked the Lord for another chance, this time to make good on my original decision to follow Christ at the age of 24. Though I joke about it, the impression was quite serious. ‘Forty-nine years.’

‘What? I have 49 years? But I'm 54 now!’
 I pondered again, what can this mean? ‘For the first 5 years, I was not accountable? The next 49 years were mine to give, and I lost them? So now, I have 49 years to make it up?’

No, that's not really how God works. That might be how my miniscule mind has to verbalize it, to even begin to understand, but no, that's not how God works. What I knew for certain, what I know for true, is that the Father accepts my repentance through Jesus Christ, our true and living High Priest. He accepted my life, and let me start again.

From that day on, I made it my will to seek His will, to act on the Word, to not suppress the Spirit, to not draw back my hand when asked for help (not by men, but by God, who alone is humble enough to ask for our help!). This is what I have tried to do in the years since that day. And here I am, still standing, like a tree after heavy pruning, stripped of most of my leaves, all the unfruitful branches cut away (they were dead wood), waiting for the next season. Waiting for the Lord to call forth from me what I still have to give.

As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 

2 Corinthians 6:1-10 NIV

One thing that has happened to me is that I have become, strangely, more and more ‘invisible.’ I was even going to call this post ‘Invisible Man,’ because this is how I feel much of the time. Now that I have been trying to live a repenting life, now that I am openly following the call of Christ, what I told my wife Anastasía when I shared this moment with her is coming true: I will follow the call, wherever it leads me, whether it makes my earthly life better or worse, whether people love me or hate me, whether I am approved or disapproved, praised or slandered…

What I have actually discovered is that many of those I counted on to be supportive have fled. What I find is that I am invisible even when I am with them in the same physical space. In this last age of the world, the politically correct way of killing someone is to pretend they don't exist…

Here is an
apolytikion composed for Romanós the Melodist, my nameday saint…

God's image was perfectly preserved in you, O Father, for taking up the Cross you followed Christ. You taught us by example to disdain the flesh, a passing thing, but to see the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O holy Romanós, your spirit rejoices with the angels.

I want to live my life as he lived his. Notice, no mention at all of the 800 hymns he wrote, or of the miracle by which he was given the gift of hymnography. Only that he took up the Cross. My hope is that I can run my race to the end as he ran his…

By faith, Romanós shouldered his cross and followed the Man of sorrows even to the end. By faith he saw the One like a son of man coming with the clouds. And by his faith in Christ, he conquered and overcame and was not hurt at all by the second death.

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