The power of transformative love took a little man and turned him into a great man whose life impacted a nation for good. Telemachus was a monk who lived in the 5th century AD in Asia, a place we know as Turkey. I was first introduced to him through the writing of Chuck Colson. 

God’s path led Telemachus into obscurity and adversity where he would learn faithfulness and genuine love as he refused to allow feelings to determine his reality. In the midst of drudgery, he found significance in being a son of God, learned to give thanks, praise God, and work with excellence simply because he loved the Lord.

 

You may feel discouraged, even feel God has overlooked you. Take courage my dear friend. Like Telemachus, who felt set aside, you are important to the Heavenly Father. He sees you and has a purpose and a plan for you; it may lead through adversity and loneliness but that is the path to intimacy with Him. Give thanks, my friend, and allow the transformative power of love to make your heart a beautiful garden for Jesus.

 

Telemachus is my hero; his life inspired me to press on and trust the Lord when I wanted to give up. Let me share my picture of him.

 

The Transformative Power of Love

As a youth, with visions of greatness, Telemachus left his father’s home to devote his life to Jesus, but life at the monastery was not what he had imagined.

Assigned to kitchen duty, after rising before dawn for prayer, he did menial and often unpleasant jobs until it was time for evening vespers. As soon as one task was completed, another demanded his attention.

Deeply discouraged, he prayed,

“Lord, I came to do important things for you. But I feel so insignificant; I am exhausted by scouring burnt pots, with never a moment to myself. This isn’t what I expected. What value is there in scrubbing pots?”

“Ah, My son. This is the task chosen for you for this moment. If you are not faithful in little things, you won’t be faithful in much.”

“But Father. Can’t I learn faithfulness doing something important?”

“You don’t need special tasks to be important; My son, you are important because you are you and because I love you.

Faithfulness begins with small things that feel unimportant. To seek important things diverts one into seeking the praises of men.

I am the God of small beginnings, Telemachus. Be faithful to Me.”

A year later, Telemachus, in the quiet of the cellar where he had been sent for some wine, complained.

“Lord, I’ve been faithful all these months! When will you give me work to do for you?”

“My son, do you love me?”

“Lord, you know I love you.”

“Do you trust Me?”

“Of course!”

“You are in the place I have chosen.”

“But Lord…”

“Do you scour pots and scrub floors for Me?”

Telemachus took a step backwards.

“I, I, I never thought of scrubbing floors for you.”

“Whatever you do, Telemachus, do it for Me. That brings clarity of sight.”

In the coming days, Telemachus would pause and whisper, especially when confronted by a task like scaling hundreds of little fish.

One day Brother Andrew snapped,

“What are you muttering under your breath?”

Brown eyes widened in dismay,

“Oh! I’m not muttering, I said, “Lord, I am doing this for you”.”

“Hmph! Sounds like muttering to me.”

After a particularly difficult day, Telemachus fell to his knees by his cot.

“Father, I do love you and I’m learning to do my work for you, but I can’t go on.  I feel trapped, caught in a rut. No matter how many pots I scour for you, there’s always more. I want to run away and escape the mendacity of life.”

“Will running away help?”

“It’d get me out of this kitchen!”

“But will that help?”

“I won’t feel frustrated and unappreciated.”

“Are you angry you’re stuck in the kitchen?”

“Yes!

I try hard to do things for you but it doesn’t work anymore. I don’t want to be angry but it feels like you don’t care what happens.

And I guess I’m bitter about washing the same blackened pots every day.”

“Thank you for your honesty My son. Feelings are shadows of reality you may learn to move past if you move into the light of truth.”

“How do I that?”

“How often do you give thanks for being able to wash the pots?”

“Give thanks? Why? I’m not thankful.

Besides, to say thanks and not mean it would be hypocritical.”

“Do you remember what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18?”

Telemachus hung his head and grudgingly said, “Give thanks in everything for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

“David also found it hard to give thanks in hard places until he learned it was an act of his will. Being thankful isn’t a feeling. David gave thanks to honor Me.”

“I am sorry, Sir. I didn’t feel thankful. I did say I was working for you, but I was angry with you, so my thanks were not from my heart.

I will try to engage my will and give thanks even when I feel unthankful.”

“Thank you, My son. I am with you and will help you.”

In the following days, Telemachus used every spare moment to visit the Scriptorium where he memorized Psalms of King David. As he worked, especially if he felt discouraged, he quoted words of thanksgiving from Psalms. As Telemachus turned from feelings to love for God’s words, he became a blessing to others.

The day came when Telemachus was released to work in the garden. Though he loved the freedom of being outdoors away from the pots and onions, he felt the garden wasn’t his life’s destiny. Yet, there was contentment in his heart. God had taken him from the kitchen and he was free to lift his voice in praise and adoration.

Several years passed. One day as Telemachus was weeding, the Lord called.

“Telemachus, I want you to leave the monastery.”

“Where do you want me to go?”

“As you are walking, I will show you the way.”

Receiving permission from the Father of the monastery, he set off with a loaf of bread and a flask of water. Sensitive to the Spirit, his footsteps led to Rome. Entering the city, he was caught in a rush of people and allowed himself to be carried along.

Telemachus had never been to Rome. He soon found himself in a huge arena with thousands of people and sensed in his spirit this was where the Lord wanted him. Finding a seat, he waited for the Lord to show him the next step. Suddenly, there was an uproar as Caesar appeared and the people cheered in reverence. Silence fell as several gladiators entered the ring.

Cheers and laughter filled the arena as the men began to fight. In horror, Telemachus realized men were being killed to entertain the crowd. He jumped to his feet.

“In the name of Christ, forbear!”

His voice was lost in the sea of sound around him. Undeterred, he ran down the steps, climbed onto the wall and jumped down into the ring.

Telemachus made a comical figure. Short of stature, wearing a brown flowing robe, he ran to one gladiator and cried loudly,

“In the name of Christ, forbear!”

Ignored, he ran to another.

“In the name of Christ, forbear!”

The gladiator swatted him like a noisome pest, landing Telemachus on the ground bringing a roar of delight from the crowd at the unexpected entertainment. But Telemachus had learned faithfulness and perseverance. Jumping to his feet, he went from gladiator to gladiator crying,

“In the name of Christ, stop this!”

A hush descended on the crowd in response to his passion.

Though knocked down numerous times, he refused to give up.

Deeply grieved, he grabbed a gladiator’s left arm, causing the man to be grazed by his opponent’s sword. Shaking Telemachus off, he hit his opponent with the broadside of his sword, knocking him to the ground.

Furious, he turned on Telemachus and ran his sword through him.

Telemachus fell to the ground bleeding. Using all the energy left in his body, he raised his hand into the air and cried into the hushed silence,

“In the name of Christ, forbear!”

His voice rang across the stadium and then he died. Stunned silence continued, no one moved.

Then one man rose to his feet and walked out of the arena. Then another, and another, and another. According to tradition, that day was the last time men killed each other for sport in Rome’s arena.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NASB).

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