It is a natural thing to be afraid of death. It’s only few people that are able to embrace it and even fewer will remain in a place where their life is being threatened.
Same were the thoughts of St. Paul the Hermit, a holy man who lived in Egypt in the period of the 3rd century. He lived during the time of disorder in the Roman Empire and he heard the horrible stories of people who were killed for their Christian faith. He got frightened and when he heard that his brother-in-law was going to hand him over to the Roman authorities, he did what any normal human being would do. He ran out of away as fast as he could.
St. Paul disappeared to the desert and found a cave where he would wait patiently through out the persecution of Christians. His intention was to stay there for a little while and then return back to the world.
Meanwhile, he didn’t expect to fall in love with the cave and the solitary privacy it gave him. He then enjoyed spending his days in prayer and eating simply alone in the wilderness.
St. Paul remained in that cave for the rest of his life and became known later as the first “hermit,” who devoted himself to God in a solitary way.
His story is a perfect reminder that God is always with us, even when we try to run away from making a sacrifice. As St. Paul never thought of becoming a hermit, God used his fear of martyrdom to lure him into the desert for a another kind of martyrdom, one that would bring him to the heights of sanctity.
God knows us better than we claim to know ourselves and He will guide us to holiness in a way that is in consent with our gifts, talents and personality. Each of us is different and God recognizes that, and he gives each of us a unique way to heaven.