What happens, do you think, when the all-good, almighty God comes in Person to visit a desperately sin-sick, immoral, mixed-up person? He will zap him, you may say. No, no, no; that’s some fictitious deity! The true and living God will heal him instead, as He healed His prophet, Isaiah by touching his lips with the mystical burning coal, and as Christ healed and saved even the most outcast of sinners.
The sinner will be terrified, you may think. No, the soul will greatly rejoice and be comforted! Except, of course, when the soul has no intention of turning away from its own evil, but of retaining it. Then certainly, the sinner will be terrified. That’s where such terror comes from: the intention to keep on sinning! But he who hates his sins will be comforted when God visits him.
The sinner, encountering God, will want to run and hide, you may suppose. To the contrary, the sinner will, so to speak, invite the Deliverer to dinner.
The Gospel is Good News, pure Good News, not like a good news / bad news joke.
Here is what it is like, written by the author of the book I’ve been reading, The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios, by Dionysios Farasiotis (St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, California, 2008, pp. 84-85). This visitation from God happened to the writer while his worst sins were still ahead of him, and before the time he went seeking out gurus in India, thereby opening his soul to so many demonic influences that Fr. Paisios had to cast the demons out of him when he came back. Before all that, while the soul had nothing that even the most absurd pride could imagine to be a claim upon God, when God knew the young man would, for years, trample upon the gift, this happened:
I was praying alone in my apartment [when] I felt Him approaching me. I came to know the *perfect love* that *casteth out fear* (I john 4:18). He was so present, although He was invisible. He was so immaterial, although he was almighty. He was so unapproachable and intangible, although He was so near. He touched me, but not just on the surface. He touched he innermost depths of my being, filling me and permeating me. He united Himself with me so closely that we became as one. I was intoxicated by God, and I became like fire so that my very body burned. I wanted to be completely open towards Him, without a single corner of my soul remaining hidden, no matter how ugly or filthy it was. I wanted everything to be known to Him, so I confessed to Him and showed Him all my crooked and filthy ways, all of my vices. I longed for every corner of my soul to be visited by Him, by this vast infinite Love coming from all directions and filling all things. As Saint Symeon the New Theologian cried, “O Deifying Love that is God!” This Love holds the universe together, connecting every part of it, giving it the strength to exist, and being the very cause of its continued existence.
At the same time, however, I felt so unworthy and so unfit to be with Him that I fell to the ground with my face to the floor, in order to sink into the very concrete if I could. [Houses is Greece are constructed of steel-reinforced concrete.] I was so full of vice, so unworthy to exist and to be united with Him, that I wished I could stop living. I remained motionless, but this Love drew near to me, this Love that welled forth from the One Whose gaze is directed towards all things and Who pervades all things, the One Who has always existed.
Because He loved me, He allowed me to approach Him, and He purified me and healed me, thoroughly and deeply, of all my pains and sores. He drew me gently, steadily, and safely from darkness to light, from filth to purity, from non-being into being. He granted me a more intense, true, and vital existence, not because He had need of me, but because He is love.