17 Mar Marking Time
Following Forgiveness Sunday vespers a couple of weeks ago, one of our parish family remarked to me concerning their thankfulness of coming to another Lent. They remarked that, God willing, they would see another Pascha as well. This is how he marks time for himself, from year to year. I thought that was a nice way to view our lives, because normally we mark time through events like birthdays or anniversaries, etc.
This past Wednesday marked the third anniversary of the repose of my ordaining Bishop, Metropolitan Nicholas. Thinking about this idea of marking time reminded me of the remarks he made the last time I saw him, at a dinner for his 75th birthday, less than one month before he passed. His Eminence remarked:
“In the Second Epistle of Peter, Chapter 3, this is what we read in verse 8: ‘But do not ignore the fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’ It seems that the older we get, and more spiritually mature, it is easier to understand that a person’s life is just as complete at twenty-five years old, or fifty-five years, or seventy-five years. There is one thing that we must keep in mind: with the Lord, a day can mean a thousand years, and a thousand years can mean a day. Remember that the purpose of life is living, and not counting years! And a life well-lived achieves its full potential. At seventy-five years old, I have stopped counting years. I realize that God doesn’t want it, and I don’t need it. We can celebrate our birthdays and we should. But we should be celebrating something even more important than how many years old we are. We should be celebrating the years of Christian life God has given us. We should be celebrating what we have done with all those years God has given us. Have we used those years wisely, or have we wasted them? Did we glorify God in all those years, or instead did we give ourselves glory? I hope I have been a wise steward of the years God has given me so far. Even though I am struggling with sickness right now, I am dealing with it. I don’t regret any of the 75 years God has given me, and I would not change them in any way. I can sing ‘Happy Birthday to me’, and really mean it! Remember the words of scripture, ‘With the Lord, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.'”
So, whether you mark your years by the season of Lent, or your birthday or some other way, be sure you are marking them as well by how you have taken advantage of those years, and used them to glorify God. That is part of why our Lenten journey is so important. It’s not just a period of 40 days to attend different services, or to refrain from eating certain foods, it is an opportunity that our Lord gives to us to grow in our faith, to truly live the Gospel, which teaches us to love, to forgive, to care for our brothers and sisters in the world, to “be perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect.”