The Ladder to the Kingdom of Heaven

Fr. Andrei Lemeshonok
Living in this world, we are searching for the ways, which can lead us to eternal life . God says: “I am the way” (John, 14:6), “I am the light” (John, 8:12), “And the light shineth in darkness” (John, 1:5). Perhaps, each of us felt inspired when he came to God. Everything becomes bright and pure, because God dwells in you, and He protects you from lies and filth of this world. You can see the main thing, and nothing can disturb you from this, because the knowledge of God has struck you. This joy revealed the sense of life to you.  You were choking on this earth before, for everything is the same there: always the same menu, always the same laws. The rulers are changed by other rulers. Everyone wants to be the head, to outperform his competitors… People constantly choose something or someone. But we choose Christ, and we do this not through certain manifestations or bulletins, but through our life.
It is so difficult to say “I am with Christ”, when everything crashes in your life, when you suffer, when no one can understand you, and you do not understand what is going on in the world. When it seems to you that what is going around is just madness.
The most people judge on their spiritual condition by how they feel. However, this is quite naive. We cannot focus on ourselves, because we are corrupted by sin. We partake of the Holy Communion not just to make our soul soar, to restore peace inside, and to make all the problems disappear. We need the Holy Communion to burn the old “self”, which tells us how to live, which deceits us, while we believe him. And this is why we cannot know right from wrong.
Fr. Sophrony (Sakharov) said, that it is impossible to live in this world like Christians. We can only die for this world like Christians. But we want to live here and now. And God gives us such opportunity. He lets us see the blue sky and the sun, which is warming already, by the way. However, no matter how good this life is, it will end. This is why we should harden ourselves. If someone suffers and thinks that God does not hear his prayers, he should not believe this condition. He should not believe his grievance and despair, which dwell in a person when he does not see the effect of his prayer. There is always effect, but God did not come to this world to make our life great here and now. He came to this world so that we all could prevail over death. He wants us to take part in our own resurrection.

The forthcoming week is devoted to a great ascetic – Saint John Climacus. Spiritual life is a ladder, which leads to the Heavenly Kingdom. We climb it, we fall down, we hit the ground, we stand up and we fall again. The thing is, we need to stand up over and over again. The ascetics, who devoted their lives to studying spiritual laws and struggle against sin, have left to us a lot of works for edification. However, we need to be prudent. It can happen that a person, who came from the world, has read the works of the ascetics, but still does not understand the main things of the Orthodox teaching. While the main thing is to humble yourself – to acknowledge your own weakness and to let God enter your life. You do not need to surprise people with your feats and talents. The Lord speaks simply in the Gospel: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew, 11:29).

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