There was once a very old hermit who had been living an ascetic life of eighty years in the desert. He had a painful thought that he hadn`t received any charisma from God to assure him that he had pleased Him and he was going to be saved. Of course this was a demonic thought from the right side.
He prayed God without cease saying: How will I be saved? Don`t I get any certitude that I will be saved?` God seeing the need that man had listened to his prayer and gave him the answer. While he prayed, he heard a voice telling him:
`Wake up in the morning and go to the depth of the desert and there you will see the greatnesses of God.`
And indeed in the morning he took a flask of water and started his way to the depth of the desert. During his journey he got very hot and thirsty and drank water. All of a sudden, while walking on, a robber who had his shelter in the neighborhood cut his way.
`Welcome grandpa. Do you know what the law of the robbers says?`
`What does it say, son?`
`When a robber kills 100 men, enters heaven. I killed 99. Now I am going to kill you cause where else would I find another one?`
`Well, son, but you have found me, who am old and recluse? After so many long years spent in the desert to die like this?`
`Grandpa, where to go to find another? I am going to kill you to go to heaven and save myself and find my peace after so many crimes.`
`Oh, this greatnesses of God! Where else to find them? Was the voice coming from God or was it satanic? If it was from God why did the robber come into my way? Isn`t it enough for me that I have no assurance that I will save my soul? Now in the end to have such a death? What means this?`
`Son, why don`t you go somewhere else and leave me?`
`Where to run now? The place is desert and you are very good for that.`
For a moment the hermit being enlightened by God said:
`y son, since you are going to kill me anyway, I want to fulfill me a wish. You know I am thirsty and I have a flask here. Won`t you go to bring me some water from the river which flows down there?`
`Fine, I`ll go. `said the robber
He took the flask and went to take water. The hermit waited his return but he didn`t come back. He waited but he still didn`t come. His thought told him: `run away, you have the opportunity to escape` But where to run? This one is young and powerful. He will catch me and torture me. He waited and waited but the robber didn`t come back at all. He thought to go and see what was going on. When he approached the river he saw that the robber had died when he tried to fill the flask with water from the river. Then he raised his hands saying:
`My Lord, what are the wondrous mysteries I witness?`
And suddenly he heard a voice saying:
`The robber saved his soul. He confessed that he had killed 99 people and he was to kill you the 100th Then you asked him to bring you water and he went to bring you. Meaning that he showed obedience and love in deed. Therefore e confessed, he showed obedience and love. The robber saved his soul by confession, love obedience, by the mercy he did although he had committed so many crimes. And you who have been living for eighty years an ascetic life eating only a kind of fruit growing in the desert (cause he had nothing else to eat) won`t you save your soul?`
Thus he thanked God for the news he had received. He went back to his shelter and rested and died in peace being assured that God was going to save him and he was to go in heaven sanctified. This was a parable which teaches us that God clings even on nothing for saving a soul.
Excerpt from the book The Art of Salvation, Evanghelismos Publishing.