I’m having a hard day today. Too much caffeine for me this morning combined with a weird nap time for the kids and an early morning wake up for Basil has made for a battle-filled morning with a grumpy mom. I sat the kids down for a “rest time” instead of naps after trying to get them down for way longer than usual. I made my lunch, trying to hold back hormone and frustration induced tears. As I made my way to the table to eat it, I picked up an old copy of Again Magazine.
This is what I read:
During the darkest days of the Soviet oppression of Orthodox Russia, a group of Christians gathered to celebrate Divine Liturgy at a remote Russian church on a cold Sunday. Just as the service was beginning, the doors of the church opened-and in walked three soldiers of the Red Army. wearing their heavy uniform coats and carrying rifles. One of the soldiers stepped forward and barked out a chilling order. He demanded that everyone present who was not a Christian to leave immediately. A hush fell and the worshipers exchanged fearful glances. After a few moments, a man quietly ducked his head and made for the exit. As he left others began to follow, alone, in pairs, and in groups. But a handful of people stood their ground. Men and women, children and the elderly. They were afraid: but they also found in their hearts the courage of their love of Christ. Would you have stayed?
And the article went on to speak of our own sacrificial witnesses. At the center of our Faith rests the most challenging paradox of all: that the birth of Christ lead to the cross. In His love, Christ suffers. And to show all our love for Him, we must embrace suffering ourselves.
Now my measly “suffering” in no way compares to what these people and hundreds of thousands of saints and martyrs have suffered, but I am reminded of my choice. To embrace the hard times and learn to lean on Him. Or to despair and turn away, trying to depend on my own strength. Will I choose to “stay?” To lay down my LIFE, even daily living, my will, my desire to have MY way for the sake of LOVE and salvation?
Their story ends with a merciful turn of events, as my moments of suffering usually do, thank God, as I’m still here, and am hopefully growing.
As the last person departed, those who remained-those who were willing to witness to their love of Christ, whatever sacrifice might be required-faced the the leader of the soldiers. And as he looked at them, his face broke into a smile. He told them his name and said “Thank God, we are also Orthodox Christians. Now that we know that any who might betray us to our superiors have departed, let us pray together!”
Lord have mercy, help me to choose You.