In my daily life I have to be extremely careful about what I eat. I have to avoid all traces of gluten and soy. If I am accident-ly exposed to gluten, the consequences are unpleasant and life disrupting. I have embarrassing gastro-intestinal problems, I am too weak to even climb stairs at times, and I get bad headaches. This is a consequence of my body not being able to properly absorb nutrients following gluten exposure. I eat, but what I eat doesn’t make it to my cells. So, taking vitamins and making sure I get proper nourishment is essential for me to function.
But what about my spiritual nourishment? I have to eat, neglecting food for too long leaves me grumpy and weak. Too often I forget that neglecting God for too long leaves me grumpy and spiritually weak. I need daily, hourly, nourishment from Him. It is easy to brush off prayers in the morning, saying them while doing other things or neglecting them entirely. It is also easy to be “too tired” in the evening to spend time with God. But, like my body eventually noticing lack of food, my body eventually notices the lack of God. In His grace and mercy He is always there, waiting for me with open arms, welcoming me back to His presence.
I take this continuous presence for granted sometimes. God is always going to be there, to be “out there.” There will be time for Him later, on my terms, when I can sit down and take a break.
But God won’t be there forever. At some time in the future, maybe even in the next day, (or the next hour!) I will be called before His judgement seat. What will I say when I get there? Will I have been so busy with the rest of my life that I don’t recognize Him? Will I be ashamed to stand before Him and give an account of myself? Most importantly, will I be able to respond with love to His loving call to me?
This season of Lent is supposed to be a time of increased discipline, of increased prayer. I have failed. And in that failing I feel even more keenly the call of My Father. He’s there, waiting for me with open arms, if only I stop being self-absorbed and un-disciplined, and instead slow down and worship Him. It’s an easy thing to say, but not an easy thing to do. But God, in His grace and mercy, always calls to His children, the entirety of the human race – even those that do not yet know Him, or those that are too busy for Him.
In a little more than a week we will again hear the Paschal sermon of Saint John Chrysostom:
… If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefor. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour. And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts.
It’s never too late. I come at the eleventh hour, but my Lord, who is Love, awaits. If only I take the time to nourish my body and respond to Him. Glory be to God.