04. Obedience in the labors of faith

Fr Tikhon realized that each day started early. He was assigned to cleaning the monastery, in the first few days as a novice. The weather was freezing and harsh, and yet the young novice had to clean trenches, polish the floors, and wash the very muddy laundry. He was also told to chop wood and store away in a storeroom amidst the terrible cold weather, as well as cleaning away cow manure.

What the young novice did not realize was that each monk were allotted many tasks per day, much more than he was given as a novice.

And after laboring through the tasks of the day, the young novice stood for hours during the Divine Liturgy, praying for countless names in a notebook. And the seemingly tough tasks and prayers dawned on the young monk, and the evil one tempted him to go home.

Finally, the young monk managed to see Father John, an old elder in the monastery. Just a brief exchange, and Fr John told the young novice that he would return to the monastery, which in the young man’s mind was an impossibility. After all, why would he return to such arduous labors? Before leaving, a youngish Fr Tavrion chatted with the young novice, and gave him a valuable prayer book to keep at hand.

Then something strange happened. After ten days of hard labors, the young novice was more than happy to leave the monastery, possibly for good. And yet, when he stepped outside the gates of the monastery, the first thought that came to him was the wish to return back to the monastery.

The young man returned to the world, going through life, entertainment, and social interactions. And yet, every worldly encounter became boring to him, without meaning.

In our daily walk in the world, sometimes we may find frustration and even disgust at the work at hand. And yet, we brave on. It is the same obedience novices abide by when they labor under the instruction of their abbots and elders in a monastery. What God ordains, we obey, and carry out. Through time, we begin to understand that everything has a Divine goodness, even if it may not be apparent to us yet (Proverbs 14:23).

And the more we labor with faith and obedience in God, the more we begin to uncover what God intends for us. The more we strengthen our faith, the more we become dead to the world (Colossians 3:3).

Call on His Holy Name, in every breath we take, remembering Him:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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