At some point in our lives, we will find God’s grace and make steady progress in our spiritual and worldly lives. Our hearts will rejoice. Hope and faith will dwell in them, and there will be no room for despair.
But eventually, the grace will diminish. We will have to work hard before we are ready for it. Many will sulk, take offence and grumble at God for not treating them well, or not giving them something to which they feel entitled. But few will fight to win the grace back. They will battle against the circumstances, or the people, or some other perceived obstacles, but they will not admit their responsibility for what happened within and around them. Worldly sin has corrupted human nature; it has distorted our character, habits and learning; it has undermined our very ability for understanding. We have the eyes to see, but we are blind; we have the ears to hear, but we are deaf.
Still, the door is open. Confess and ask God for forgiveness. He will forgive before we even begin to repent. He makes it plain and obvious to us and leaves nothing unexplained. He leaves us no chance to say: "This is too hard, we are too immature to understand.” All is simple. Our human nature is hesitant to break with sin because we are called to crucify our flesh with all its passions and desires (Galatians 5: 24), to overcome our self-seeking habits, ambitions and moods, and challenge our old selves. No wonder there are so many of us who are always unhappy, dissatisfied and nagging that no one understands them.
When we share the same spirit, we do not need words. The spirit of Christ dwells in us, and we do not have to say much. We meet and say, “May you be saved, sister!” Just this, and nothing else. Words are unnecessary. We have God’s grace within us – who needs words for understanding? When we are one in the spirit, we do not need to say anything. It must have been the same kind of grace that dwelled in God's saints as they were praying for the world. Just imagine - an ascetic in a cell embraces the whole world with his heart, and prays for it! His heart becomes a cosmos. He may not be strong physically, but there is already a kingdom of God in his spirit. He changes the lives of millions with his prayer! I wish that our sisters could become spiritual beacons like these saints and free up their hearts for Christ and His love.
We, too, should cleanse our hearts from everything irrelevant and unnecessary. We should have them cut out and discarded. If we cannot do it, God will. For He is our doctor, and his scalpel is sharp. “How can I help you today?” He would ask. “Help me stop judging others and grumbling and become more grateful. There is a lot of bitterness in me that brings me to sin; I want it out of me.” And God will do it in a blink of an eye.
One brother told me, “I had been drinking insanely; I had lost everything I had to my passion.” God came. He healed him from his affliction and made him averse to drinking. “I am not going to drink any more,” resolved the man. He had suffered and made others suffer, but he finally put an end to it. I know of many other examples.
I know of many more people who were overwhelmed by their passions but found God’s grace, and received a second breath of life and new hope. They had had no life; they had been biding their time and slowly dying.
So never lose hope, and always count on God’s mercy!
On 8 April, Father Andrey Lemeshonok celebrated his birthday, We extend our warmest and heartfelt greetings to him on his anniversary and wish him God’s grace, a peaceful spirit, good health and many happy years of life. Happy birthday to your beloved shepherd from all of his flock!