The goal is for people to observe God’s commandments. The spiritual person must attain such a spiritual condition that even if God does not grant him Paradise, he will not be disturbed. We must realize well that today we are alive, tomorrow we may be gone, and we must be concerned about how to be near Christ. Those who have by God’s grace realized the vanity of this life have actually received the greatest gift; it is not necessary to be able to foresee the future, for it is enough to have the foresight to prepare for the salvation of the soul, and to take the best possible spiritual measures to be saved. You see, Christ did say, The value of one soul is greater than the world world, (cf. Matt 16:26). The value of one soul is infinite! That is why the salvation of one soul is an extremely important matter!
Does this mean, Geronda, that one shouldn’t have the hope of salvation and the fear of damnation?
If someone has the hope of salvation, he will not have the fear of damnation. And for someone to have the hope of salvation, he will have to be somewhat sorted out. The person who is struggling to the best of his abilities, who has no desire to live a disorderly life, but who in the course of the struggle for faith and life falls and rises again and again, God will never abandon. And if he has the slightest will not to grieve God, he will go to Paradise with his shoes on. The Benevolent God will surprisingly push him into Paradise. God will ensure He takes him when he is at his best, in repentance. He may have to struggle all his life, but God will not abandon him; He will take him at the best possible time.
Comments by Elder Paisios from the book Spiritual Awakening, pp 120-21 (available from St. Herman Press http://www.sainthermanmonastery.com/):