How often are we brought up short, incapable of understand His will. His first and last thought for us. We do not easily abandon ‘our ways’ and with enormous difficulty search out ‘His ways’. The instant it seems to us that now I begin to see…He demonstrates how immeasurably distant He is. My soul is strained to the limits of her strength, my spirit fails. I am appalled at the endless profundities of the knowledge of God that stretch before me. I look for sustenance in the Divine word, and what do I come on? ‘Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven’. Why? ‘For the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain’ (Hebrews 12:26-27).
O Lord, I am weak. Thou knowest this.
In fear I seek the way to Thee. Despise me not.
Forsake me not in my fall.
Draw near even unto me, who am of no account, yet I thirst after Thee.
Take up Tine abode in me and do Thou Thyself
perform in me all that Thou hast commanded of us.
Make me Thine for ever and ever, in love unshakable.
The Elder Sophrony
I read such profound, intimate thoughts of a living saint, and wonder to myself, “What things in my life may be shaken?” I realize that almost everything in my life can be shaken and I feel like a man who built his house on the sand.
But this is only anxiety – it is a displacement of my daily confidence in the wrong things. It is the judgment of God. For only that which cannot be shaken is of true value. Thus I begin to ask myself, “What cannot be shaken?”
The Church, at least many superficial aspects of the Church can be shaken and are shaking at this very moment, and yet She abides. If the unspeakable horrors of Stalin visited on the Church did not destroy her, if the many betrayals by even hierarchs did not destroy her, how can the Church be shaken beyond her core reality – the True Body of Christ? So my heart should rest.
My parishioners whom I love and who are the daily prayer of my heart can be shaken and are often shaken to the very breaking point. And yet, the love of God in Christ Jesus for them cannot be shaken, and so my commitment to them above everything should not be shaken. This is a commandment from God.
My family is but flesh and blood, and children seem as vulnerable as the most ephemeral aspects of life. The vulnerability I feel is linked to the love, the uncontrollable love which I feel for each of them. I cannot make the world around them behave or protect them from the vicissitudes of this life. Thus what is unshakable remains only in the hands of God, to whom I must commit them and trust.
My own life is always fragile. From my state of mind on any given day, to the meager struggle against sin, all is fragile. To God alone everything must be committed, knowing that should a “shaking” come, it is only for my benefit and the salvation of my soul.
“O God, Thou hast promised to shake us and all the world.
Have mercy upon Thy servants and our weaknesses,
For only in Thee may we find safety. And our hearts are weak.”