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

52- Obedience of faith or a life of submission

 

He who believes in Gods love, His watching over him, His wisdom and handling of his life, and believes that God does benevolence for him, yields his life to God to plan it as God sees fit.

With that conviction, the person will always live in the obedience of faith.

He yields his life to God and he is tranquil and glad. But he who does not live the life of submission is troubled about his life and keeps on thinking: what am I? and how am I? and when am I? is it necessary that I change what I am doing? or shall I stay as I am? Thinking tires him and most probably he loses his peace, and continues in perpetual search and discusses the matters with himself without end. He neither thinks of rest nor leaves the matter to God like the man of faith.

The faithful person, when he yields his life to God does not set any conditions on God, does not ask Him for guarantees and does not observe God in His work with him.

He has full confidence in God, in His love, wisdom and ability. He has faith that God knows what is good for him more than he

himself does. That is why he yields his life in His hands and forgets it there.

As long as he has faith in God's work with him, he won't be able to be anxious or interested, and won't tire himself with thinking. The believer lives at peace more than he who thinks for himself and his thinking tires him.

Many do not accept the submission to God unless their human ways fail!

Their principal way is the complete reliance on their human arms either on the esteem of their minds, abilities and tricks, or their getting used to this way, owing to their false belief, or their conviction that a person turns to God only in time of full disability and failure. Then, at that time they come to God because they have tried every trick and method and did not reach their aim, and because their minds have grown tired and exhausted without any use and there was no other way except through God.

This is not faith but it is the pressing necessity to God. Faith is that you seek God in the trivial as well as in big matters.

Jesus said For without Me you can do nothing. (John 15: 5). That is because every power we have is from Him, even correct thinking, good will and the ability to work. The intelligence on what we depend on is also from Him. How true the saying of the apostle is For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13).

Our work in reality is to participate with God in His work for us. This is our participation with the Godly nature, with the Holy Spirit participating with God at work. Just what Saint Paul the apostle, said about himself and his colleague Apollos For we are God's fellow workers (1 Cor. 3:9).

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Every work in which God does not participate in is not a holy or a blessed work. The submission of our will and desire to Him is a kind of participation with Him. We are like tools between His hands doing His will. He conducts it as He wishes. It works with His thinking and wishing, or yielding our will with His will as a companionship of senses with the brain.

The most dangerous thing which can threaten the spiritual life is the person's independence of God.

This is the big sin that King Saul committed so God rejected him (1 Sam. 16). He used to work with his thinking and planning away from God's advice and companionship and didn't see that he is in need to let God participate with him at work, as if he was saying: as long as I can do this work I'll do it with all power and with all haste even without prayer because my will alone will carry it out without depending on God, and if I fail, then I will seek Him! God granted me a mind and will so why don't I use them? There are many like Saul.

God granted humanity the mind and will but not independent of Him

And not that it depends upon itself. The Bible says And lean not on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5). We remember that the sin of the first human was his attempt to obtain knowledge without God (Genesis 3).

When the human starts to say I know and I can, so what is the use of God in this matter? He then becomes separated from the faith of God and enters the faith of ego.

The believer is not only satisfied with the dependence on God but also yields everything to Him.

The believer tells Him: My life is the work of Your hands and it is now between Your hands, do with it what You want. Where You want me to go I will go and what You want me to be I will be. I don't have a special will, my only wish is that I do Your will and to be one with Your will to want what You want, You the doer of benevolence.

I don't mention anything that I know. Every human's wisdom is foolishness in God's eyes (1 Cor. 1:20). The real wisdom is from You God, alone. You are the wisdom (1 Cor. 1:24). You are in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.(Col.2:3).

I admit that I don't know so I submitted my life in Your hands.

You know good more than I do and You know the good for me more than I do for myself . I have confidence in Your wisdom and in Your planning of my life. Even if You wished me a test or a distress I will accept it from You, considering that it is true good from Your hands. Had it not been for your love for me,

You would not have accepted it for me. Really, in many cases we don't know where the good is!

The life of submission does not know any complaints or murmurs, but accepts everything with satisfaction and gladness.

As long as you have confidence in God's wisdom in His plans for you, then why do you complain, murmur or worry. If murmurs enter your life, this is a good indication which shows that your faith has weakened

He who lives a life of faith and submission lives always in joy and thankfulness.

The believer does not complain but gives thanks. The smile does not leave his lips, cheerfulness does not leave his face and joy does not leave his heart. He believes in God's wisdom and love. He also believes that God's will is always good and useful. He submits to God's will in joy.

He does not submit to God's will due to being obliged or compelled, as if his heart was saying to God what can I do oh Lord? You are strong and I am weak. All what you do I accept. I am awaiting the end of this matter. No doubt that these thoughts are of a person who is tired within. He speaks with complaining words in a yielding manner. Yielding is not at all like this.

What is then the meaning of let Your will be done in the life of faith and submission?

The believer says in complete satisfaction of heart: God I submit to your will because I like Your will from the depths of my heart and I have confidence in You and in Your will. Your will has corrected my thoughts, my opinions in certain matters, and improved my way of life... how beautiful are your ways Lord How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (Rom. 11:33). Your will is the most beautiful song on my tongue, and the most beautiful news in my ears. So let your will be done because there is no other will better than that. I feel ignorant beside any will that opposes it, either it is for me or for others.

The life of submission is not submission to the actual matters without conviction!

It is not submission to the policy of a Godly pressure that imposes itself on you and you are obliged to submit to it either you want it or not

No my brothers and sisters, that is not the meaning of the expression let Your will be done, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. The life of submission teaches us to feel that God's will is the full benevolence, and that it is the best for us and it is a reason for our joy and cheerfulness. That is why David was singing about God's commands and tells the Lord your commands are my lesson, Your commands are my pleasure. I meditate on your commands and I learn them (Ps 119).

Submission to God should be real submission and not only be appearance. Some think that they yield themselves to God although they impose their plans on Him. Every time

God acts in his life he tries to stop God and says, wait Lord so that I see what You do with me. This matter is not good.

Do this and that so that I rest. This is how he tries to be a planner, he plans and God does!

No, submission is not like that, but it is that you leave God do what He does, and that you are satisfied with what He does, and that you don't resist God's plans with your actions, and don't resist His plans with what you do according to your wishes.

The believer leaves God the planning and does not accept that he plans for himself.

What was the sin of Adam except that he began to manage himself in obtaining knowledge? How to become like God? How to build himself... that is why he fell.

The sin of Satan was that he began to manage himself, to build and to enlarge as he likes.

I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. (Is 14:13-14). They are plans that resemble daydreaming, Satan planned it for himself and he fell.

The same also happened to those who built the tower of Bable. They planned how to build themselves and they failed.

They said Let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth. (Gen. 11:4). Their planning was against them. What they feared was what happened to them The Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. (Gen. 11:9).

The spiritual person does not do that but says in a life of submission Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it. (Ps 127: 1).

God is he who builds us and not ourselves, so let us yield ourselves to Him so that He builds us.

That is how we live in peace, having confidence in God's work in us and in His successful work. We stand and meditate and see miracles from His planning. Having confidence that He does benevolence whatever happens in front of us which seem to be strange, difficult or against what we hoped for.

It is not important if we understand what God does, but that we accept it with faith and submission.

The Bible is full of examples of submission in the lives of men of faith:

1-our Father Abraham, for example, whose story with God began with God saying to 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).

Abraham neither asked why nor where but he just obeyed.

This is the life of submission that does not argue nor discuss, but accepts and obeys without reluctance. It puts the understanding to the side and concentrates itself on God.

2-That is also how Noah was in the arc, Jonah in the whale's stomach and Moses in the Red Sea a life of complete submission.

It is the obedience of faith. As long as God wants that then we do not discuss with Him. What is our limited and weak mind that we discuss with God the unlimited with full wisdom? Moses, at the beginning of his message, argued with God on how to go to Pharaoh (Ex. 3), but when he grew in faith and submission he did not argue about entering the Red Sea.

3- Saint Mary the Virgin, lived her life as an example of obedience and submission.

With her love of virginity, she was told to get engaged to a man and to live with him in one house and she obeyed. God sent her an angel telling her that she will be pregnant and give birth to a son and she told him Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word. (Luke 1:38) she gave birth to Jesus, and saw all the miracles that surrounded this birth, and was told to escape to Egypt and she accepted all that in obedience of faith. Also in submission she returned from Egypt and accepted to live in Nazareth (Matt. 2:23), about which it was written that nothing good comes from it (John 1:46).

Her motto in this life of submission was her famous saying may it be to me as you have said

4-Faith and submission also appear in the apostles' life in their spontaneous obedience to the Lord's saying follow me

This is what the Lord told Matthew (Levi) at the tax collector's booth (Mark 2:14). Matthew did not discuss but He left all, rose up, and followed Him. (Luke 5: 28) and did not think at all of his responsibilities and work.

The same also happened when the Lord called Peter, Andrew and the rest of the apostles. Peter summarises all the stories of calling in his saying to the Lord We have left all and followed You (Luke 18:28).

It is the obedience of faith that follows God wherever He goes without question, inquiry or thinking about the future. Everyone obeyed without knowing where he was going to (Heb. 11:8).

How many times are we called by God but we stay in our relaxed perception of our future?

That's why we ask many questions and try to get what we can from guarantees. With all this we get out of faith and become viewers. To the future we see by our own eyes and are relaxed about it, and not to the unknown future that we see through the eyes of faith, and accept it through a life of submission and obedience.

5- Jeremiah the prophet, is an example of a life of faith, submission and obedience.

He followed God, in faith, in ways he never thought he would go through and at the end, he summarised his experience about the life of submission in his deep saying O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. (Jer. 10:23). Why doesn't he guide his steps? Because it is God who leads and guides these steps.

This is the life of submission that you walk after God and not after your mind.

You walk not according to your wishes and desires and not according to the wishes and/or advice of other people but after God Himself who leads your life. He puts your life at any place and position according to His wisdom. So ask yourself whether God leads your life, or that a certain desire leads it and which guides your actions and foot steps.

6-Joseph is a wonderful example of the life of submission.

God showed him in a vision that he will reign over his brothers, and that they will all bow to him (Gen. 37: 10). How was the promise fulfilled! His brothers took him and threw him in a well to kill him. They then sold him as a slave. The Midianites pulled him out from the well to sell him to the Ishamelites (Gen. 37:28), and then they sold him to Potiphar to serve in his house.

In all that, Joseph did not murmur against God but kept quiet, and submitted calmly to what God allowed to happen and followed in faithfulness and sincerity. He accepted life as a slave. He was content with misfortune but misfortune did not accept him! He was accused of a bad and false charge and was thus thrown in prison as a criminal.

It did not happen that Joseph asked God why and where are Your promises?

He kept quiet in a wonderful example of a life of submission and obedience of faith, and never murmured. The only time he strayed from the life of submission was after explaining a dream to the king's cupbearer he told him When it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house. (Gen. 40:14) When he did that, the spiritual inspiration answered this demand by saying Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. (Gen. 40:23). God did not forget Joseph who stayed in prison in life of submission until He got him out in wonderful glory.

7-David the Prophet is also an example who led a life of submission and obedience of faith.

David was taking care of the sheep in the wilderness. God sent Samuel the king, to anoint David a prophet. Samuel did it but did not hand him anything from the kingdom and David kept on caring for the sheep without murmuring. He was then chosen a servant of King Saul who was rejected from God as an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him (1 Sam. 16:14) and David did not reclaim.

He did not say I am the King chosen from God so how can I serve this rejected person? But in a life of submission he accepted this situation and he used to calm King Saul when the devils tormented him. Saul kept on going after David from wilderness to wilderness trying to kill him because he was envious and jealous of him. And it never did happen that David discussed with God or told Him 'where is Your timing? Where is the holy anointment for a great prophet?' He did not say 'what evil have I done so that I deserve all this?' But he waited in calmness and submission for the salvation of God and it happened.

8-The disciples of the Lord are also examples who led a life of submission.

The Lord called them for service as He said to Peter and Andrew Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matt. 4:19). Three years passed by and they were still following the Lord without being of service. They did not 'fish' anyone. Then the Lord was crucified and they feared and closed themselves in the upper room so that the Jews would not get them and in spite of all that they did not complain and remained in the life of faith and submission.

When the Holy Spirit ascended on them on Pentecost the Lord fulfilled His promise. In one day Peter could save three thousand souls due to his preaching and if he would have saved two souls a day he would not have come to this total number. The life of submission tells the apostle Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! (Ps 27:14).

Yes Lord I will wait for Your promise to save souls. But do I have three years to wait or more? It is like that but it is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority (Acts 1:8).

The life of faith does not question the Lord about the range of awaiting His timing.

It does not say to the Lord, why did you Lord make Peter wait more than three years to save souls? And why did you let Abraham wait twenty five years so that Your promise is fulfilled concerning the birth of Isaac? And why did You leave David to be humiliated by Saul ten years until Your promise of becoming a king was fulfilled?

The life of submission does not doubt and sees in a waiting the Godly wisdom.

David was a young boy when he was chosen. Waiting was useful for him till he grew older and mature and so that people's love for him grew day by day. Also, waiting was beneficial for Peter until he completed his discipleship to the Lord and until the Holy Spirit descended over him and the disciples so that they may all gain its power. Also the awaiting of Isaac's birth was beneficial so as to become son of the promised.

9-Of the most beautiful examples of the life of faith is Isaac being presented as a sacrifice.

Abraham was patient for twenty-five years until Isaac was born, his beloved son who took his time. Abraham was completely happy with him. Isaac grew older and then the Lord told Abraham Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah." (Gen. 22:2). Whose heart can bear this? And whose mind can hear that without doubting?

Abraham who led a life of submission did not argue and did not hesitate in carrying it out. But he woke up early the next day and took Isaac to sacrifice him. He did not think to himself more tender than God. He did not doubt at all in God's love and judgement.

Obedience is not only in the simple matters, but appears in its glory in the matters that seem difficult to carry out.

The life of submission appears in entering through the narrow path and the road of agony.

As long as God agrees to this narrow door, so no doubt it will be the best door and we do not discuss it but are happy about it. We say that, through it you test the love of your children and the purity of their hearts and that you prepare crowns for them in Your kingdom.

The martyrs received all kinds of pains in joy with this faith. And all your children Lord Count it all joy when you fall into various trials (James 1:2).


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