On occasion while driving I will listen to the Ancient Faith Radio app on my iPhone. My husband, an Eastern Catholic and deacon in the Melkite Church introduced me to this treasure. Tuning in I can listen to glorious Byzantine chant sprinkled with prayers and sayings.
One set of prayers frequently used is known as Prayers by the Lake by St. Nikolai Velimirovitch, a modern day Orthodox saint.
Today’s prayer ended this way:
O my illustrious King and my God, to You alone I bow down and pray. Flood into me, as a raging stream into thirsty sand. Just flood me with Yourself, life-giving Water; then grass will easily grow in the sand and white lambs will graze in the grass.
(Prayers by the Lake, XIX)
I immediately thought of the Two Great Commandments of Jesus:
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39 NASB
St. Nikolai expresses this perfectly and his message is clear: if we follow these commandments in their proper order, our lives will be flooded with God’s grace such that it will overflow to everyone around us.
Our greatest act of love and service to our neighbors therefore is to allow His grace to flow to them unhindered.
But we must be filled first.
Individuals, groups and institutions can be capable of wonderful acts of kindness. But even the greatest act falls far short of what God can accomplish through each individual if we just learn to get out of His way.
We can work so hard in service to others, relying solely on our own power and burning ourselves out. We can claim to do it for the good of others and feel good about ourselves. We may even say we’re doing it out of love of God.
It can make service about us.
When we rest in the arms of our Creator who loves us beyond measure … in worship … in contemplation … in love … allowing His grace to wash over us, filling us to overflowing, to the point where that goodness spills out of us onto everyone we meet … then service truly becomes the work of God.
Sounds like heaven on earth to me.
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