The Road Is Hard

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 (NRSV)

In a strange way, these verses bring me peace. They remind me that the path to the Eternal is not easy. They effectively legitimize my personal struggle.

Now, I’m not trying to throw myself a pity party here… I get that I’m not unique in finding life to be struggle. I know plenty of people that are struggling right alongside of me. Everyone falls into hard times of some sort at some point in their lives…

But when a person of faith experiences personal struggles, those struggles can come with added baggage: Maybe God is punishing me. Is there some unconfessed sin in my life? I must not be praying faithfully enough. 

And yet, here we have Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone of the Christian faith, telling us that this road is going to be hard. 

So, why is it that we expect this life of faith to be otherwise?

That is the question I’ve been entering into as of late. And it’s one that has thwarted most of my recent attempts at blogging. Because, I don’t exactly know why I expect a life of faith to be anything other than difficult. But, I totally expect it to be easier than it is. I mean, isn’t that why I decided to follow Jesus? To get Love and forgiveness and peace and joy and stuff?

Are Love and suffering mutually exclusive

I don’t believe they are. Motherhood has taught me that they often go hand in hand. That Eternal Love has a bittersweet quality in this life seems to be one of the truths nailed into the flesh of our Savior. And yet, I still respond to needing to pick up my own cross with sorrow and surprise. 

As if this road should be easy. 

He tells me it will be hard

I waste precious time balking at the cross that blocks my path, when it really doesn’t matter how easy I wish my life to be. What matters is that I dutifully pick up the same cross I’m eyeing with suspicion and get on with living fully into the life I am called to (Luke 9:23).

Even when it’s hard. Maybe, especially when it’s hard. After all, if the road that leads to life is supposed to be this way, I must be on the right track.

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18 thoughts on “The Road Is Hard

  1. I hope these verses help you:

    9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
    10 But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
    11 For there is no respect of persons with God. Romans 2: 9-11

    “God hath provided in Christ means to overcome every evil trait of character, and to withstand all temptation, however strong.” Ellen G. White

    If we decide to follow Him, the Lord Jesus helps us in our way, in all personal and material details.
    Have faith, and always ask for your help and free it from evil, in prayer and outside prayer.

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  2. Kristen, I’m so glad that you wrote this. It reminds me of a different way of looking at these verses that flashed into my heart recently. Whether this is true or not, I can’t say, but it’s something that I’ve been contemplating. “What if the straight and narrow and hard way is resting completely in Jesus and not trying to add anything to what He has done for us?” I’ve always heard that the way is straight and narrow and hard because you have to do all of the right things. But isn’t it much more difficult to let Jesus create the holiness He desires in us without adding our own extras? Not that you really have to answer those questions! Just sharing what I’ve been pondering which seems to be related to what you’ve been pondering!

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    1. Very profound! And, it sounds very Lutheran:) I know that my particular struggle is rooted heavily in the experience of human suffering– my own and that of others. I suspect it is the plight of those with active minds to want to work everything that happens down here into some logical framework. But the experience of suffering thwarts that exercise. And what you are left with is a dark faith. Dark faith is not easy, but it is unique in that once you arrive at it, nothing that happens down here can test it further. That’s where I’m at– not so much concerned with my own salvation or holiness, but with loving God when God makes no sense to me.

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  3. Very well written. I’m always reminded that it is not only the gate that is narrow, so is the path. I think it is so easy to be a carnal Christian, it’s up to Him to give me the strength to stand apart from the world. God bless you.

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  4. This … this is just what I needed.
    I’ve been struggling with what I do and what I don’t believe in.
    I was just writing to another blogger saying that it felt like I’d lost my way from the road – that I wasn’t sure if I really was on the road … or if I was on the wide and easy path that had been disguised to look straight and narrow.
    I think … I’ve got a chance for a do-over … but I have to get over my pride and ask for direction.
    I guess I just want to get back to the basics … to the essentials … to the minimum gear that one needs to follow our itinerant Rabbi. I’m afraid that I’m overwhelmed with secondary doctrines and frills to the point where I can’t carry this burden. I need to know it’s okay to let it go and that I”ll still be a Christian if I do.

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    1. Jamie, from what I gather from your posts, I think we come from very similar doctrinal backgrounds. I’ve done a lot of unpacking on my own faith journey, and I always come back to 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Every time I find myself questioning aspects of my own system of belief, I fall back on that verse. Because I’ve come to realize that God is after my heart– not my superficial obedience. He doesn’t need another white-washed tomb. He wants to teach me to love as He loves. And in order to Love like that, I need to be free.

      I don’t know what it means to be a Christian. I’ve met hundreds of people that self-identify that way that bear no semblance to the One they purport to follow. If being a Christian means I become like one of them, I’d rather not be called a Christian at all, lol!

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      1. Perhaps that’s where my struggle lies – in freeing my heart from a system of obedience. I remember having a conversation with someone about John 14, particularly about love and obedience, disobedience and not loving. He said something like we can’t be perfectly obedient – it’s not in our nature, but if we love Jesus, then he will be our obedience for us. I think – out of my love for Christ I obeyed his church not realizing that it leading me toward a path of disobeying Christ all the while falling out of love with the church. I keep on thinking about those parody videos of a Christian vs a Christ-follower and wondering where I belong.

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      2. Jamie, I came across this verse today, and I thought of you. It’s found in Acts 10:34, where Peter is first awakened to the reality that the Good News is for the Gentiles too: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” When I read this, I think of how simple Christianity was meant to be. It began as a movement to set free those imprisoned in religious and cultural beliefs so that they could individually reconcile with God. I think that it is part of the human condition to allow logical frameworks or systems of belief to get in the way of coming before God, in the inner space of our hearts, in order to know Him and ourselves more fully. It isn’t about belonging to a certain group, or tribe– I think Paul makes that very clear in Galatians 3:28. Unfortunately, I think the identity politics that dominate the public sphere has forced Christian denominations to muddy this very clear message of our Life in Christ as being one of personal responsibility and faithful individuation. Whatever group we are born into, we are free to pursue God. It’s because of this message that I remain Christian, because I’ve yet to find anything like it in any other religion.

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      3. Thanks – it’s the perfect verse. When I think about Jesus camping at night, watching a shooting star zoom across the night sky – I don’t picture him there explaining the the finer points of the frameworks that now dominate Christianity.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I wish I had riches to pay you to write a book, as your words are inspired and have inspired me to do great things. I missed your writings, keep them coming please!

    Liked by 1 person

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