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5 Inspiring Stories
Published by Dmitri Dobrovolski, 2017.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
5 INSPIRING STORIES
First edition. March 17, 2017.
Copyright © 2017 Dmitri Dobrovolski.
Written by Dmitri Dobrovolski.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
The Mystery of the Dispensation
A long-awaited duet
The Healing Tale
February 22, 2222
The Faithful Steward | Chapter 1 | The Wicked Sinner Collects
Chapter 2 | The Wicked Sinner Falls into a Pit
Chapter 3 | The Lord Protects the Son
Chapter 4 | The Mystery of the Resettlement
Chapter 5 | Happiness on the Verge of Death
Chapter 6 | The Miraculous Deliverance
Chapter 7 | The Faithful Steward
Chapter 8 | The Gift of the Father
Chapter 9 | The Fruits of the Prayer Room
Chapter 10 | Good Stewards
4 As you come to him, the living Stone — rejected by
humans but chosen by God and precious to him —
5 you also, like living stones, are being built
into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood,
offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
The Holy Bible, 1 Peter 2:4-5
It was a pleasant spring evening. Out of the window, the voices of children, dogs, and birds were heard. For more than two weeks the weather was warm, the fresh, bright greens were fragrant; in the air, the ecstasy of nature and people was blended with the coming grace-filled time of the year.
However, Ivan Vasilyevich wanted silence. He got up and shut all the windows tightly. The room was filled with an oppressive silence, which could only exist in the house of a lonely person. Ivan sat down on the chair and closed his eyes. He could no longer resist or find enough strength to withstand the debilitating melancholy which chained his soul. The desperation and the inability to change the brutal reality physically broke the, once mighty, fifty-year-old man.
This owner of the quiet apartment did not ask for much. All that he wanted was to have the opportunity to worship God in the Assembly of Saints and to evangelize the unbelievers, who were dying in sin of unbelief. Was this too much? But even this was prohibited by the Soviet government. If their local church had been registered, the believers would have been allowed to congregate, but even then they would be forbidden to evangelize. Therefore, they had decided not to register.
In spite of all these prohibitions, the church continued to gather for seven years after their pastor, Michael, had been released from prison. God had always protected His children in miraculous ways! However, there were so many efforts devoted to this constant struggle.
God had always supplied all the lost strength supernaturally and Ivan Vasilyevich had never given up until this day, although, sometimes, he had hardly been able to hold back his tears of despair. He had carried on when his wife decided to live apart from him, after Ivan had refused to abandon the church. He had remained full of hope when his daughter married an unbeliever and prohibited him from seeing his grandson for several months. He had carried on when about six months ago, the doctor said, with sad eyes, “I advise you not to waste your time and strength on getting treatment, because medicine can’t help you. However, I have witnessed some cases of miraculous recoveries from such diseases, so let’s hope!” Even then he held on, until this day...
THE DAY BEGAN QUITE well, nothing foretold anything bad. Driven by the morning chill, Ivan Vasilyevich reached the college, where he had been working for three months as a carpenter and plumber, after having lost his last job because of illness. Ivan had found this new job after much difficulty, even though there was hardly any open position. He was informed about this job after a friend’s recommendation. Ivan Vasilyevich felt well; it seemed he was in remission. Near the workroom, he was greeted by a household manager, who informed him about an unplanned staff meeting, which was going to be held in the hall. Ivan Vasilyevich had a lot to do, because of the May-Day demonstration. Then, after having a good lunch, he was among the first who arrived in the hall. After such a strenuous working week, Ivan finally calmed down and relaxed.
Fortunately, the problem in the church had been resolved without conflict. It was related to the fact that the May-Day demonstration fell on Sunday and the Liturgical meeting was planned to start later that day. Five years ago, when there was the same coincidence, the assembly meeting wasn’t postponed, so several sisters were fired. As for Ivan Vasilyevich, he had accepted Christ in 1984.
With unconcealed annoyance, the people gathered in the Hall, waiting for the meeting to begin in such an unsuitable day, because, in their opinion, there were so many things to do before a holiday! The administrators of the college were sitting at the tables on the stage and smiling guiltily. Everyone realized that they should be patient because the order for the meeting came from above.
When the rumble in the hall ceased, the organizers announced the purpose of such an unusual meeting. It appeared that a group of "irresponsible" citizens filed a petition to the Executive Committee for permission to build an Orthodox church. These naive people thought they could take advantage of the recently adopted law. The audience was encouraged to condemn this act and express their strong opposition to church building in the city.
The director of the college, Paikin, a stocky man of short stature, rose to the podium. He looked around with a smile and said quietly:
“Comrades, in order to comply with all the formalities, I must put this matter to a vote. Let me remind you that such meetings have already taken place among all labor collectives in the city and everywhere our conscientious citizens have expressed an absolute "no" to any manifestation of religious limitations, especially to some kind of construction there!
Most of the people nodded approvingly and wanted to hurry up with the vote because everyone wanted to go home. However, a fierce battle went on inside of Ivan Vasilyevich. He was surprised to find that the forces of Light prevailed in him, the main characteristic of which is fearlessness!
“So, I put the question to a vote”, the director continued. “Who is opposed to the Orthodox church building in our city? Please, raise your hands!’’
There was a sea of raised hands, which left no need for a count. So, after a pause, the director asked,
There was only one hand raised. It was the hand of Ivan Vasilyevich.
“Is this a joke?” Paikin asked in confusion.
“No, it isn’t a joke,” Ivan Vasilyevich said firmly. “If people wish to get together and pray I think that they should be allowed!”
The director’s face turned purple. An ominous silence settled in the hall.
“What?! Are these the words of a man who has been employed by me out of mercy?”
Everyone noticed how the director was clenching his fists. He quickly controlled himself and turned to the audience, speaking in a hoarse voice:
“I ask my colleagues to express your opinions concerning this flagrant act.”
As if on command, people, who a day before had paid compliments to Ivan Vasilyevich, began to come up the stage one by one. All of them angrily denounced his awful act!
“I’m unsure,” one of the teachers cried out vehemently, “whether Ivan Vasilyevich should now be allowed to work in our college!”
“If a church is built in our beautiful youthful city, then how are we going to raise our children? It is inadmissible!” a respected woman lamented, supporting a previous speaker.
There were many people who spoke out. Two women tried to protect Ivan. One of them, a single mother of two preschool children, said in a quiet voice,
“My mother is an old woman, and she would like to pray in a church too... What is wrong with it? I won’t ever go there myself, but she wants to. Why should the building be prohibited?”
Although both defenders were shouted at, they didn’t retreat, sitting in their seats quietly.
When the meeting was over, the director approached Ivan Vasilyevich.
“Don’t bother coming to the demonstration. I will not allow you to approach the children! On the third of May, come to my office at 10 o’clock in the morning. We are going to solve this problem!” he whispered with unveiled disdain.
As if he was stunned, Ivan Vasilyevich felt weak in his knees. He could hardly reach his house and, when he did, he was so exhausted that he immediately fell down on a chair. Then, suffering nausea and weakness, he got up and shut every window tightly, so that nothing could disturb him as he indulged in painful meditations.
“My Lord,” he whispered almost soundlessly with his dried lips, “take me to Heaven, I can’t bear it anymore!”
Suddenly, a sharp ring of the doorbell ripped the silence. When he opened the door, Ivan saw the worried Pastor Michael.
“The Lord sent me to you. I know everything about the meeting. One of our sisters’ cousins talked with admiration of your courageous deed.”
Ivan Vasilyevich smiled feebly and said half-heartedly,
“Come in, Michael. Frankly speaking, I’m not ready to receive guests now.”
Pastor Michael quickly entered the room, sat down on the edge of the chair and looked at Ivan with pity, as one looks at seriously ill people who refuse to accept treatment.
“I know how you feel now,” Michael said quietly. “You have prayed the Lord to take you to Heaven, haven’t you?”
Ivan was so surprised that he froze.
“Did the Lord reveal that to you? Well, there is no point in hiding it... I can’t bear it any longer... I have no strength to fight. Yes, I’ve prayed the Lord to take me away from here.”
“The Lord has heard you,” the pastor said gloomily. “The day after tomorrow, early in the morning, you will be taken to Heaven! With this revelation, I came to you.”
Ivan was frightened; he jumped up off the sofa and began pacing up and down the room.
“It isn’t fast enough!”
“What a drag,” Michael said glaringly. “Say goodbye to your relatives and go!”
“Why are you angry with me?” Ivan didn’t miss the intonation in the pastor’s last phrase.
“I’m really sorry for you! It's me, your pastor, who is to blame for your spiritual helplessness!” Michael said bitterly.
“Have you come to reproach me?” Ivan exclaimed with tears in his eyes. “How can I explain to you that I have neither the spiritual nor the physical power to fight the evil around me?”
The pastor was so overwhelmed by emotions that he couldn’t restrain himself anymore:
“Did you really think I would bless your betrayal?”
“Yes! Do you know why the Lord created you? Answer me; what is your mission in this world?”
Ivan fell down on his knees, grabbed his head and sniveled. Sobbing, he responded,
“I don’t know anything! All I want is peace and silence! My longing breaks my heart!”
Michael knelt beside his brother in Christ. He hugged Ivan and started speaking through his tears.
“Calm down! Remember what we said during Easter. In order to pass from death to life, we must die for ourselves. This can be possible only through the love which lives inside you! The love in your heart is Jesus Christ Himself! You’ve got all-conquering power inside yourself!”
Ivan didn’t know what to say. There was nothing but absolute silence.
“I know you devoted your life to the Lord!” Michael declared, “What happened? Why was your faith shaken?”
Straightening his back and his shoulders, the pastor spoke, looking directly into his eyes:
“What is the meaning of faith? Faith is an expectation! While expecting to meet with the Lord, a believer is blessing himself. It means that a person separates himself from this bustling, sinful world for God. A man who believes in God knows his future; his mission on Earth will end (because everyone is an alien and a traveler here) and he will return to his home! The expectation is a strong foundation of faith. It is the main mission of the believer on the Earth. As for you, the problem is that you have stopped expecting. Only those who expect will be given the supernatural confidence that seemingly invisible things have already existed.”
Then, Michael got up from his knees and began walking through the room, speaking every word clearly and gesturing.
“What troubles you so much? Is it fear? Is it the fear of dying of starvation from losing your job? No, it isn’t! You are worried about becoming an outsider. It’s the fear of an unknown future: adversity, disorder and so on!”
Ivan wanted to object but Michael continued heatedly, without giving him the chance to say a word: