Bridging the Gap
by Anthony Zaccariotto
When I look back on my own spiritual health, the practice of inventory is one that I cannot emphasize the importance of enough. Through inventory, we examine our lives, our weakness and in turn, our source of strength in Christ becomes pivotal. I write this blog from personal experience in an attempt to help everyone discover the source of their spiritual lax and to bridge the gap that is between us and the Grace of God.
If you throw a frog into a basin filled with boiling water, immediately it will jump out. If you put the frog into a basin filled with cold water and heat it up slowly to the point of boiling then it will stay in there until it dies. This is exactly how the devil works – slowly at first, making us comfortable and guilt-free and before we know it, we’re trapped.
When I was a personal trainer, I realised that everything I ate and drank was essential to my progress in achieving my goals. When I realised that I could train until I was blue in the face yet ruin it by some cake and chocolate after dinner I knew that in order to progress I had to cut out the sweets altogether. This is exactly the same concept with our spiritual life.
C.S Lewis once said that “Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”
Our phones are one of the biggest problem we face. We may start by checking out our Facebook or looking at a YouTube clip and before we know it, we are on the road to a whole avenue of time wasting. We hop from one thing to another and neglect our spiritual duties. It’s no big deal. Just a few more minutes. A few more minutes then turns into maybe I can just skip prayer for tonight. We forget verses from the Bible that once kept us on track like, “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off & if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out”(Matthew 5:29-30) Have you ever noticed that you can stay up until 2am watching ridiculous TV shows and yet when it comes time to stay up and read your Bible you fall asleep very quickly? What has happened here?
Habits are formed very quickly and we can become immune and oblivious to them once they have found a home in our subconscious. We are reminded as Christians that the devil is going to make every attempt to distract us from serving God and worshiping Him. In this day and age, I cannot imagine how many methods he is using to lock each of us into his traps.
There are so many habits that have us trapped, just like the frogs in the increasing heat of water. What happened to thanking God when we get home from work? What happened to the time we spent with Him, instead of all kinds of technology?
In order to break this terrible cycle we need to form new and better habits. When someone starts a new diet, they are not going to see immediate changes. They need to be consistent for a few weeks and then they see the weight loss and increased strength. The same applies to our spiritual life. When we are feeding on spiritual nourishment and are committed to spending time with the Lord we will yield these moments of Grace. Our Lord emphasised this clearly in the parable of the sower. It’s time to sow the good seed and yield our crop. How do we do this? St Ambrose of Optina gives us the answer,
“If you don’t feel like praying, you have to force yourself. The holy fathers say that prayer with force is higher than prayer unforced. The kingdom of heaven is taken by force (Matt 11:12).”
We need to make the effort to draw closer to God so that He can draw near to us. He is ever-present, but we don’t realise it when our lives are consumed in this world. While we are living in this world let us prepare for the next and start forcing ourselves into action. Nothing here is going to satisfy us except Him, and it took me a while to figure that out. Our lives are too short and we cannot afford to waste any time.
“For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and vanishes away” (James 4:14)