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Life of Faith, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

53- Not knowing where to go to

 

1-This is how our Father Abraham followed God to the unknown, not knowing where the road will lead him, but having confidence that God accompanies him through the way and guides his steps.

2-This is also what happened with the pure apostles when the Lord called them and they followed, and they did not know where. At that time, Jesus did not have a known residence and he did not even have a place to rest his head (Luke 9:58). He wandered through the cities and villages teaching and healing in despite not having an official profession in the Jewish society, not having a known income and when He called His disciples He even told them Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey (Matt. 10:9,10, Mark 6:8).

If one asked one of the disciples at the time: What is your work? What is your future with Christ? He would have stood with a big question mark not knowing any answer, except that of a life of submission. It suffices him that he walks with Christ in spite that in his being with Him and in His presence he does not do anything. Jesus does everything and the disciples are just viewers.

3- Another example is of Saint Mark the apostle, when he entered Alexandria.

He entered it without knowing where to go to as there was no church where he could stay, he did not have people there nor residence. On the contrary, idolatry was everywhere and Judaism was opposing the faith. But Saint Mark came to Egypt with faith and God lead him to Anianos although he did not have this matter at all on his mind.

St-Takla.org Image: A Coptic Orthodox monk walking in the wilderness (ascetic, solitaire). صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: راهب قبطي أرثوذكسي يسير في الصحراء (ناسك، الوحدة، التوحد).

St-Takla.org Image: A Coptic Orthodox monk walking in the wilderness (ascetic, solitaire).

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: راهب قبطي أرثوذكسي يسير في الصحراء (ناسك، الوحدة، التوحد).

What happened to Saint Mark happened also to the rest of the apostles. The names and places may have been different but the heart of the subject is the same, as if every apostle was saying: if the service was a human work it would interest me to know the plan of my way; but if the service is a Godly work so I don't care where I go to as I am with God so I go wherever He guides me.

4-John the Baptist saw that his duty was to witness the truth. He witnessed the truth and rebuked King Herod saying you are not justified and was not interested where it will lead to prison or to death. The message of God was fulfilled in complete obedience of faith. Life and destiny are submitted to God to completion.

This was how Paul the apostle witnessed for the Lord not caring where he got into trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword, he says with confidence in the life of submission In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:35,37).

In all these matters, the children of God walked in the way of life, the life of submission.

All what interests them is that God leads them and they do not care where to, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. They have confidence in faith, that it will lead them to green pastures and to wells of living waters. Their experience with God makes them happy with His guidance, having confidence in His love.

5- Isaac, the son of Abraham carried wood and went after his father not knowing where they were heading. All what he learned in his life was submission and obedience, and Isaac went with them to the place of where he was to be sacrificed. Abraham tied him up and put him on the altar on top of the wood (Gen. 22) and raised his knife. All this and Isaac was in complete submission. He did not doubt in his father's love nor in the love of God and he always gained.

With his submission, he gained the obedience of faith, his life and God's promises.

6-The servant of Abraham, when he went out to search for a wife for Isaacs did not know where to go to.

He yielded his paths to God to guide him. God planned everything for him in a wonderful way that he stood astonished in front of it. Everything happened according to what Abraham asked him and that's why he said Lord has prospered my way (Gen 24:56).

As if he was saying I did not know where I was going to, but I knew exactly that God would be with me

The same nearly happened to Jacob on his journey to his uncle Laban. How beautiful is the Lord's saying to him I am with you and will keep you wherever you go. (Gen. 28:15).

7-the Israelites in the wilderness, did they know where they were going to?

They did not know anything. God used to guide them day by day. They would go or stay according to God's guidance. This guidance was in the form of a cloud during the day and a rod of fire in the night. The people were in complete submission to God's guidance not questioning Moses did not have a plan for his journey nor a map to follow as if he was saying: it is enough Lord that Your cloud is above our heads and the rod of fire in front of us. We do not plan our way but Your good will does. We are happy to be under Your guidance. Wherever Your cloud goes we will also go and wherever it stays we will stay under it.

Let the meeting camp in the wilderness move towards the unknown. It is unknown to us but is in Your knowledge since the beginning of time. That suffices us so that we yield ourselves to this unknown, and we have complete confidence that we are on the way to Canaan.

8- Saint Antonious, father of monks, when he entered the desert did not know where he was going just like Saint Paul, the first traveller.

Also all the other travelling Saints and hermits when they entered the unknown wilderness, did not have a certain place in mind to go to. What was in front of them was the spiritual aim to be alone with God in a calm and peaceful life, yielding their lives totally to Him lost in the pastures, mountains and the earth's cracks.

If you ask anyone of the hermits where they are staying, they would answer, On a map I do not know where this place is that I live in but on the map of love I know that I am in the Father's embrace.

9-Some may ask: shouldn't every one make an estimation of the cost according to the Lord's commandment Himself (Luke 14:28)?

The life of faith is far from the science of mathematics so then what does Saint Luke mean by all this that everyone sits down and estimates the costs of outlays?

The cost of outlay are: Do we have enough faith?

Do you have enough faith that you yield the whole matter to God to manage it? You do what you can but this is the least wanted. The principal point is your faith in what God does and your yielding to Him in the whole matter.

This is our way when we wanted to build a church or any project for service or caring. The main question was not from where do we pay the costs? but the main question was, does God agree with this project or not? If He allows it then He will take care of the costs, we only have to start it and God's hand completes the work with us Unless the Lord builds the house, They labour in vain who build it (Ps 127:1).

Faith is that you close your eyes and look at God.

As long as you open your eyes you will walk with the bodily senses, but if you close this bodily eye you will walk with heart and soul.

If you are convinced with your spiritual senses that God will go with you on your path, walk in it even if it was through the valley of the shadow of death, having confidence that there you will not fear any evil because God is with you (Psalm 23).

10-This is the life of submission, where God chooses for us what we want without choosing ourselves, taking advice from the story of Lot and Abraham.

Lot chose for himself to live in Sodom where the valley was full of tar pits (Gen 14: 10-11) and he knew where he was going to. Abraham did not choose anything for himself, but God told him Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you. " (Gen. 12: 1) and what was the result? Lot cursed when he was in Sodom and Abraham saved him (Gen. 14), all his money was burnt and he lost everything there.

The life of submission of Abraham had a better result.


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