Be Always with Christ and Trust God in Everything
Like many of you, I find myself with not enough time to do the things I need to. With this in mind, I’ll be taking a break from writing my weekly blog for a season, but instead will provide some of the best writings I find on living our lives as Christians in these challenging times.
Fr. Thomas Hopko, a professor of mine from St. Vladimir’s Seminary and a well-known author and speaker offered what he called his “55 Maxims for Christian Living.” They are wonderful, practical ways to live the life in Christ.
During each week of my “blogging sabbatical,” I will post something written on the topic of one of Fr. Tom’s Maxims. Maxim #1 is “Be always with Christ and trust God in everything.”
To address this topic, I have selected an excerpt from an interview with Fr. Roman Braga who lived and died at Holy Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction, MI, who was asked the question: “How can we find Christ today, in our current American experience. Here is his answer, as excepted from oca.org:
First of all, Christ is in you. Christ is not just some nice guy. He is God, and God is within you. God is in our consciences, in our hearts, in our minds. He is not something material you see outside of yourself. You find God in yourself. You descend in your personality. We are eternal, we never die, the body goes to the cemetery but the conscience, the person, is continually alive. So when you descend into yourself, your conscious is infinite. And this infinity is the temple of the Living God. Saint Paul says many times that you are the temple of the Living God because God lives within you. You find God when you know yourself, when you know who you are. If you neglect that, when you say, “I don’t have time to think about myself,” you will never find God, because God is not something material. You do not find him in a specific place. God is always with you if you want Him to be with you. You find God when you find yourself. “Who am I?” Pay attention to these verses of the Scriptures—“you are the temple of the Living God because God lives within you,” and as Jesus said, “remain in Me and I in you. I am the vine and you are the branches,” and if you do not remain in me you do not have the sap to feed yourself, and you will dry up. People who complain that they do not feel God are dry branches. They have to remain in Christ and to accept Christ by saying, “Lord, come, I am here. You created me. Open my heart because You created this heart. You created the door, enter please.”
You have to talk with God wherever you are—even while walking along the street or driving your car you can say, “Lord, You are in the front seat, and I know that You are here. Tell me, why did You create me?” You have a lot of things, an infinite number of things, about which to converse with God, and God wants you to talk with Him. Prayer is not about how much you read from the prayer book, or how long you kneel; prayer is your whole life. When you eat, when you drink, when you drive a car, when you discipline your children, you are in a state of prayer. Life is a Liturgy. It is not only in the church that the Liturgy takes place; the Liturgy is outside the church building too. The entirety of life should be a Liturgy—if you feel the existence of God. But you have to get that feeling of the existence of God. How? I always say, especially to young people, “have a dialogue, a permanent dialogue, with God. Sure you are busy—you eat, you prepare your exam if you are a student, you work and you are very busy, but always say, “Lord I know You are here; I didn’t forget You. Look at me and do not abandon me.” Many times, this permanent dialogue with God becomes a prayer, because prayer is communication between man and God.
Prayer is not something you do for a short time, after which you say, “I finished my prayer.” You never finish your prayer. The definition of prayer is this: the feeling of the presence of God in you. And if you have this feeling of the presence of God, you engage in a continual prayer. If you pray only at appointed times, you don’t pray at all, said one of the monks. So pray all the time, because prayer is not “give me, give me.” Prayer is saying “I love You and I want to spend time with You.” Ask something of God, and don’t worry whether God is answering you, even if you don’t think He is. He’s giving you good hints and good suggestions on how to resolve your problems. So to find God in our culture here is to be conscious that God exists, that He exists not outside of yourself, but inside. God is always with you.