Seven Parables and Stories for the Week: Issue 20

Why God Didn’t Give Us Wings

There was a hunter who went hunting in the forest and the fields. One day, it took him a lot of time and effort to climb a high mountain looking for a wild animal. He was exhausted and sat on a big stone to relax. When he saw a flock of birds flying from one place to another effortlessly, he started thinking, “Why didn’t God give wings to us humans? We could be flying instead of climbing mountains.” A humble hermit was passing through that place at the time. He read the hunter’s thoughts and that is what he said to him:

– You complain that God did not give you wings but if you had wings, you wouldn't be satisfied, either. You’d say, “My wings are too weak to fly to the heaven to see what is going on there.” If you received wings strong enough to rise up and see the heaven, you would not be satisfied, and you’d say, “I can’t understand what is going on here.” If God gave you the ability to understand the heavenly matters, it wouldn’t satisfy you. You would complain, “Why am I not an Angel?” And if you turned into an Angel, you would keep complaining that you are not a Cherub. If you became a Cherub, you’d bewail the fact that God did not entrust the whole heavenly realm to you. Even if you were privileged to manage the heaven, you wouldn’t be satisfied, either. You would look for more power, like you know who. That’s why you should humble yourself down and be satisfied with what you’ve got, and this is how you can stay with God.”

The hunter realized that the hermit was right. He thanked God for sending him someone who instructed him and revealed the path of humility to him.

Saint Silouan the Athonite

The Wheel

We must be living like a spinning wheel that touches the ground at just one point and goes up with all other points. Instead, we lie on the ground and cannot stand up.

Saint Ambrose of Optina

Mother and Child

Have you seen a mother teaching her baby to walk? At first, she supports him and teaches him to put one foot in front of the other confidently, and then she leaves him alone near a chair and calls him from a distance of two or three steps. The baby is scared. He is left without support. He has to step away from the chair and make three steps on his own. Imagine: Three. Steps.

To be honest, his mom is near. If he stumbles, she will catch him and he will not get hurt. But… three steps look like an extremely long distance. Yet, standing is boring. Mom keeps calling, and the child wants to get to her. He cautiously puts one foot in front of the other, then pauses in hesitation. Then an extreme effort, two unstable but very quick steps, and here he is, near his mother's skirt. He is so excited and happy!

The Lord teaches his children like a loving mother. He has to leave us alone sometimes in order to make us do what we need to be able to stand firm and walk the paths of godly life. It is with tempests and temporary abandonment that our souls can grow.

Saint Basil of Kineshma
Homilies on the Gospel of Mark

Someone asked an elder why he had left the world. That was what the elder said in response:

– As long as you don't utter a word, it is your captive. As soon as you utter the word, you become its captive. I have often regretted saying something but I have never regretted not saying anything.

I Have Never Abandoned You

Once upon a time there was an elder who lived in a desert. Demons became visible and attacked him. They started dragging him out of his cell to make him leave the desert altogether. The elder started fighting back but they were stronger than him and dragged him to the door. They almost threw him out. The elder was desperate and cried out, “O Lord Jesus Christ! Why have you abandoned me? Help me, O Lord!” As soon as he uttered these words, the Lord immediately appeared and scattered the demons. Then He turned to the elder and said, “I didn’t abandon you. You did not call me thinking that you’d defeat your enemies on your own, so I didn’t come to your rescue. You are guilty of relying on your own power. Call me immediately next time, for Ι am always ready to help you.” The Lord disappeared. The elder received a great lesson. It teaches us not to fight our passions using our own brain or willpower. Instead, we should call upon the Lord immediately, asking him to help us.

(St Theophan the Recluse. Spiritual Life: How To Be Attuned To It. Chapter 58)

The Soft Word of God and The Hard Heart

When some monks asked Abba Poemen about the numbness of heart, he replied:
– Water is soft, rocks are hard. However, if there is a water pipe over a rock, dripping water gradually wears away the stone. Likewise, God’s Word is soft, whilst our hearts are hard; however, if one frequently listens to the Word of God, fear of God will dwell in his heart.

(Saint Nikolaj of Serbia. Missionary Letters. Letter 70, to a humble man who confessed that he had sinned in his words)

Can you see what an insane word does? I’ll not leave you without an example of a good word, either. A faint-hearted soldier was sent on a scouting mission during a war. Everyone knew that he was fearful and they laughed at him when they learned where the sergeant was sending him. There was only one soldier who didn’t laugh. He approached his comrade with words of support. The faint-hearted soldier said, “I’ll die, the enemy is near!” — “Don’t be afraid, brother, God is nearer,” the good soldier said in response. These words were like a large bell that tolled in the faint-hearted soldier’s soul. This bell kept ringing till the end of the war. In the end, the timid and fearful soldier returned home wearing many medals and military decorations for his courage. This is how just a single kind word made all the difference: “Don’t be afraid: God is nearer.”

Translated from: https://azbyka.ru/days/