Seven Parables and Stories for the Week: Issue 30

Remember that you get enough power to carry your tomorrow’s cross, not today’s cross. There was a deeply depressed man who complained of his numerous troubles to a friend of his and said, “Why am I so miserable?” — “That's because you've picked both your current burden and your future burden, too. And you carry both burdens using your own power, not God’s.”
One's own power is helpless and puts you down; God's power is omnipotent and raises you up.

The Price of Obedience

A believer was being interrogated by a middle-aged KGB officer. The KGB officer could not succeed in talking the believer into cooperation with the “organs”.
– Let's be frank, – the officer said. – What has your God who you so fanatically believe in given you? You have a big family, your kids walk around in shreds, your wife is giving birth every couple of years, but you are so stubborn! Don't you know that you may not even get out of here?! Who will feed your family? Just sign this paper, and your life will change. You'll have a decent job, income, and respect. You'll be able to send your children to college.
– All right, I agree, – the believer replied,  – but I'd like to ask for something in return.
– What exactly?
– Do you have kids?
– Yes, I do. My son is 21. How is that relevant?
– So. You'll let me torture your son to death, and you won't punish me for it. On the contrary, you will forgive me. Then you'll say that you love me and promise me to protect my family round the clock and help me with everything I'll ever need. You'll grant me eternal life and raise your son from the dead to make me believe your promises. If you do all those things, I swear that I'll do anything you want. Moreover, I'll call you my lord publicly and even sacrifice my life for you, if necessary.
The officer heard all that and was silent for a long time. Then he rose from his chair and said:
– Sorry for my silly offer. You are free to go.

Jeweller's Treasures

The Blessed Abba Zosimas retold a story he had heard from someone:
“There was a jeweller who took his precious stones and pearls and embarked on a ship together with his aides to go to a foreign land and sell them. God made it that he fell in love with a young sailor who became his aide, ate and drank with him. One day, the young sailor overheard other sailors conspiring to throw the jeweller into the sea and take his precious stones. The young sailor came to the noble jeweller to serve him as usual. The jeweller asked the young man:
– Why are you so sad today?
– No no, I'm okay.
The jeweller insisted:
– Come on, tell me what's wrong with you.
The young sailor burst out crying and told the jeweller that the other sailors had conspired against him. The jeweller asked:
– Is that true?
He swore that that was exactly what the other sailors had been whispering about.
The jeweller called his aides and told them:
– Do whatever I tell you immediately.
He spread a piece of cloth and ordered:
– Bring my bags of precious jewels.
And so they did. He opened the bags and started laying the jewels out on the cloth. When he was done, that’s what he said:
– Is that what a human life is worth? Is it the reason why I am fearful when I struggle against the sea, and why I will soon die without taking anything out of this world? – And he ordered his aides: – Throw everything into the sea!
All his treasures sank into the sea. The sailors were stupefied, and ditched their plans.”
Blessed Zosimas summarized this story: “Note that as soon as he started thinking about death, he immediately became a philosopher in his words and actions in order to rescue his tiny little life. And he was right. He thought, “If I die, what use will I have for all those jewels?” Unlike him, we don’t want to suffer for the sake of the Lord’s commandments at all.
If there is anything worth feeling sad about, let us feel sad about the death of the person who harmed us, not the fact that we lose some of our possessions.”

The Great Paterikon

The Road to the Sea

There was a young man in a poor hamlet. Like all other residents of that dying hamlet, he spent all his days idling meaninglessly. One day, he had a dream about the sea. No one in the hamlet had ever seen the sea, and no one knew what it was like.
When the young man announced that he planned to set out to search for the sea he had seen in his dream, everyone thought that he was nuts. He left the hamlet anyway and spent several days walking until he found himself at a crossroads. He chose the middle road and arrived at a rich village in a couple of days. The young man told the locals that he was looking for the sea, and they started persuading him not to waste his time but instead stay in that village and lead a peaceful and happy life like they did.
He obeyed them and spent several years in that village. One night, he had a dream about the sea again. He recalled his unfulfilled dream and decided to leave his house in the village and go on traveling again. He said goodbye and went back to the crossroads. This time, he took another road. He walked and walked for a long time until he finally saw a big city. He liked the city and decided to spend some time there. The young man studied, worked, and had fun with his friends in the city for many years. Finally, he forgot about his initial destination.
Several years later, when he was a grown-up man already, he saw the sea in his dream again. He thought to himself that if he didn’t fulfill the dream of his youth, his life would pass in vain. That was why he returned to the crossroads and chose the third road, which led him into a dense forest. He saw a small hut on a forest glade and a mature but beautiful woman hanging over the laundry. She invited him to stay with her because her husband had gone to war and did not come back. The man agreed.
They spent a happy life together and raised their kids. One day, the now elderly man had a dream about the sea again. He abandoned his home and family and ran back to the crossroads. This time, he chose the last path, which he had never taken before. The path was steep and rocky. It took him a lot of effort to climb it.
The old man found himself at the bottom of a huge mountain. He decided to climb that mountain hoping to see the sea from his dreams at least at a distance. Several hours later, completely exhausted, the man reached the mountain top. He saw incredibly far: the man could see the crossroads, the rich village, the big city, and the hut of the woman with whom he had spent many happy years. What is more, he could finally see the boundless blue sea on the horizon.
Just a moment before his battered heart stopped beating, the weeping old man found out that all the roads that he had taken led to the sea but he had never walked any of them to the end…
...And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea (1 Kings 18:43)

On Reading the Word of God

A monk came to his spiritual father and said, “Father, I will stop reading the Word of God.” “Why?” the elder asked. “I can’t understand it,” the monk replied. “Son,” the elder told him, “When sheep find a good meadow, they grab the grass greedily and swallow it, doing all they can to get more of it. They start chewing the grass only after they’ve already eaten enough. Likewise, as long as you have enough time and opportunity, read the sacred texts as often as you can and don’t be lazy, and sooner or later you will figure out their meaning. You will either understand it due to lots of practice or learn from the Holy Fathers, or, if there is no one there to interpret it to you, the Lord himself will enlighten you.”
Archpriest V. Guriev. Prologue

An elder once said:
– Anyone who believes that he can comprehend God’s Mysteries through scientific theories is like a fool who wants to see the paradise through a telescope. You can’t wed the Gospel with the common sense because common sense is based on profit, whereas the Gospel is based on love.

Translated from: azbyka.ru/days