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It is said that the greatest chess players “see” at least 4 moves ahead at all times. This is why they can anticipate their opponent’s moves and be ready for them.

But most of us simply don’t think that far ahead in our lives. We clutter our moments with as much noise as possible in an attempt to drown out the silence that makes us uncomfortable. This need for constant stimulation, constant input, for constant noise, speaks more to addiction than it does to real attempts at productivity. What are we afraid of in the silence and stillness of a moment? Why do we struggle with the feelings of disease when there is a lag in a conversation? What drives us to fill every moment with “something” so we won’t be “bored?” Careful here, dear one, this is a door that once you open it in your soul, there’s no going back! Search for the answer to our hunger to hide and you’ll find you’ll hear the Voice of God walking in the Garden!

No wonder we question God’s timing, His motives, and His wisdom when life throws us the curves it always seems to throw, and always at the most inopportune times! We seem to never take the time to think long term, to see the real “end game” ahead of us, and to be wise in planning how to counter the distractions, the detours, and the temptations to leave the proper path for our lives. We constantly miss the signals of both danger and opportunity, but God never does. He sees the end from the beginning.

Look at Genesis 10:32-11:9:

These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations; and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood. Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

Here we read the story of the Tower of Babel. The Flood is passed. The generations of Noah’s family are obeying God’s command and multiplying on the earth. And they are ingenious people. They learn skills, crafts, engineering, and ambition. And they gather together to pool their resources to build a city with a tower that reaches the heavens! God sees that humanity still retains the spark of divinity built into the image of God in every person. He sees they are instinctively desiring to be like their Creator and build, create, and achieve. But they are still enfeebled by their broken relationship with God and this poisons even their best intentions with the danger of self-centeredness and lack of love for their neighbor. But their abilities are God-given, so they will achieve their ambitions; that is unless Someone intervenes to protect them from themselves. They are actually in mortal danger from their uneducated ambitions.

So God does. He confuses their common language and they no longer have the ability to communicate. This stops them in their tracks and they are forced to abandon the project. So the tower is called “Babel” because they stopped being able to understand one another. Of course, this sad necessity will be reversed on the Day of Pentecost after God had accomplished all that was necessary to heal mankind’s deepest wound by Christ’s death and resurrection. When God gives humanity His Spirit, the effects of the Tower of Babel are reversed! And a more healthy, well-rounded, and mature unity is made possible by doing unity in God’s way instead of the childish ways of self-centered men!

St. Nicon was born and raised in Naples, Italy. His father was a pagan and his mother was a Christian, and Nicon was a Roman soldier who left the army of the empire and went East where he was baptized and eventually was made a bishop on Mount Ganos, which is in modern-day Turkey. After three years of living as a monk on the mountain, an angel communicated to the local bishop that St. Nicon should be made a bishop and he and his monks should be sent to Sicily to help the Christians who were still under serious persecution in the area. St. Nicon took 199 brother monks and they went to Sicily to evangelize and serve the Church there. By God’s grace, St. Nicon went to his native city of Naples and he found his mother still alive there. He stayed with her as she was in the last days of her life, but her heart was filled with joy as she saw her son not just converted to Christ, but as a bishop in the Church and a leader of monks. She died in his arms with tears of joy for God’s goodness. St. Nicon lived in the area for many years preaching and converting many to Christ until a new persecution of the Church began. All 199 of his monks were arrested and beheaded in this persecution, but they left St. Nicon alive to torture him in an attempt to get him to abandon Christ. After much torture, St. Nicon was beheaded and remained faithful to his Lord.

Today, God sees the End from the Beginning of your life and all our lives. He has countered every move made against your ultimate well-being and He is now asking you to trust Him as He guides your life through the wisdom of the Faith. Each day you are confronted with the choice to keep saying “yes” to His insights and plans for you or react with short-sighted fear and take control of yourself. Today, make the choice to trust Him. And then build your faith so that saying “yes” not only becomes easier, but automatic! That’s the path to being Orthodox on Purpose!

P.S. By your ascetic way of life you conquered the crafty one, Holy Father Nicon. By virtue of your holy life, you became a rule and model to your disciples, and with them, you struggled for the Faith in the West. You have all attained glory in heaven. Pray to Christ for our salvation. Amen

We are fast approaching the last part of Great Lent. Would you consider a gift to Faith Encouraged to help us at this time of year?

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