Friday, February 7, 2014

Don’t Lose the Forest through the Trees

Sometimes, when we find ourselves in the midst of a struggle, we lose focus on why we entered the struggle in the first place. This is easy in the forest. From the outside looking in, the forest is nothing more than a bunch of trees clumped together, but from within we notice not just a clump of trees, but hundreds if not thousands of trees, shrubs, grasses, vines, puddles, rocks, and maybe even some wild animals. What should be a quick stroll through a few trees to enjoy the breath-taking lake on the other side, becomes a scary journey of twists and turns surrounded by dangerous obstacles. Once inside the forest, we sometimes forget that we are just using the forest as a path to the lake, or worse, we become engrossed in the details of the forest and forget the lake even exists.

The same danger exists in our spiritual journey. God has given us His Church as the path to heaven. He invites us to enter the Church and walk with Him toward salvation. The Church, like the forest, is much more than just “a” Church. It includes many details that, without them, would no longer be a Church. Just like a forest without trees, shrubs, grass, wild animals, etc., would not be a forest. Rather than trees and shrubs, the Church has a way of life which includes prayer, fasting, almsgiving, the Holy Sacraments, and Divine Services of the Church. Once inside the Church, we can sometimes lose focus on why we entered the Church in the first place. We didn’t enter the Church “just” so that we could fast. We entered the Church so that we could find Christ and live with Him. Along the way we pray, we fast, we help others, we tithe, we confess our sins, we marry, we baptize, we ordain, we anoint, we bury, and we receive Holy Communion.

But if we lose sight of WHY we do these things in the Church, we can lose sight of Christ and heaven all together. How do we know this to be true? Consider the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. It was the Pharisee who lost sight of WHY he was living the life of he chose. He had forgotten that fasting, praying, paying tithes, etc., had a purpose… find Christ. As we enter the Triodion Period (also called Pre-Lent) and begin a more intense spiritual journey, let’s try to remember WHY, and not lose sight of the goal….to find Christ. Let’s not lose the forest through the trees.

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