The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 45



(It is easy to obey God.)

Nor is it bitter to them to conform to such orders, rather is it their pleasure and delight, while I had seen in the world that each man did unwillingly what he had to do. Verily, God had deprived these men of their stony hearts, and placed in their bodies fleshly pliant ones that were obedient to the will of God. The devil, indeed, with his crafty suggestions, the world with its scandalous examples, the body with its innate tardiness on the right path, troubled them much. But this they heeded not. They drove away the devil by the artillery of their prayers; they guarded themselves against the world by the shield of resolute will; they compelled their bodies to obedience by the scourge of discipline. Thus did they joyfully perform their duties, and the spirit of Christ that dwelt with them gave them such strength that they were wanting neither in goodwill nor in good deeds (within the limits of earthly perfection). Here, then, did I truly see that to serve God with your whole heart is not labour, but joy, and I understood that those who lay too much stress on the weakness of man do not understand the strength and value of their new birth, and have, indeed, perhaps not attained it. Let them then take heed of this. I saw not that anyone among them claimed absolution from his sins because of the weakness of the flesh, or excused his evil deeds by the frailness of his nature. Rather did I see that if a man had devoted his whole heart to his Creator, who had redeemed him, and consecrated his body as a temple, then following his heart, his other limbs also freely and gradually took that direction to which God willed them. Oh, Christian, whoever and wherever thou art, free thyself from the fetters of flesh! See, know, and understand that the obstacles which thou imaginest in thy mind are far too small that they could impede thy will, if it be but sincere.

2. I saw also that not only to do what God commands, but also to suffer what God imposes, is easy. Here no few were slapped, spat on, whipped by the worldly ones; yet they rejoiced, and lifting their hands heavenward, praised God that He had thought them worthy of suffering somewhat for His sake; for not only did they believe in Him who was crucified, but they also, they said, were crucified for His sake. Some who fared not thus envied the others with holy envy, fearing God's wrath if they received no correction, and separation from Christ if they had no cross. Therefore they kissed the rod and stick of God whenever they touched them, and gratefully took His cross upon them.

3. Now, all this sprang from their complete subjection to the will of God; thus they desired to do nothing, to be nothing, but what God wished. Therefore are they certain that whatever befalls them comes to them from God, according to His prudent consideration. Nothing unexpected can, indeed, befall such men; for they count wounds, prison torture, and death among God's gifts. To live joyfully or dolefully is indifferent to them, except that they consider the former more dangerous, the latter safer. Therefore they delight in their troubles, wounds and stripes, and are proud of them. In all things they are so hardy in God's faith, that if they suffer not somewhat, they imagine that they are idling and losing time. But let all hold their hands aloof from these men; the more willingly they offer their back to the stripes, the more difficult it is to strike them; the more similar they are to fools, the more dangerous it is to mock them. For they are not their own masters, but belong to God; and all that is done unto them God considers as done unto Himself.