13th December

Turn, Then, And Live

I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and Live. Ezekiel 18:32

Abba Paul the simple, a disciple of Abba Anthony, visited a monastery to help the brethren. After a conversation, the brothers began to gather in the chapel for their customary worship. Paul observed them individually as they entered, noting their degree of piety. As we see faces, Paul could see souls.

As they approached the chapel, Paul observed that while most had a beautiful aura and angels hovered over them, demons darkened one. Temptation led him by the nose, and his angel followed some distance behind, grieving. This moved Paul deeply. He sat down tearfully outside the front of the chapel.

The brothers noticed Paul’s unusual behavior and asked him what was wrong. They were concerned that he might be weeping for them all. They invited him to join them inside for worship, but he declined. He remained outside, lamenting over the one he had seen.

After worship, as the brothers were exiting, Paul studied them again, wanting to know their spiritual condition. The individual who concerned him had radically changed, with an angel close by and the demon at a distance. Paul jumped with joy and shouted aloud, “Come see what a merciful God can do!”

Everyone gathered around Paul. He told them what he has seen. The man Paul had singled out came forward and confessed his sin. He said that while he was inside, someone read from Isaiah about scarlet sins becoming white as snow. He accepted it as God’s word directly to him and promised that he would renounce sin and serve God with a clean conscience. Everyone rejoiced together.

Turn, then, and live!
Bernard Bangley, By Way Of The Desert, page 91/92

Heavenly Father, may I trip over my sins and graze my knees in pain.
May this pain, bring to my attention, the need of your loving salve on my wounds, as I bring them to you with a repentant heart.
Heal my soul with your love, that it may be at peace, and pain free