I was recently walking (and praying) around the Penn State Behrend campus while my daughter had track practice. I came to a split in the path. Of course, this is the proverbial image often used to illustrate the choices we have in life. We can either choose good or evil.
“I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live…” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Naturally, when we choose the path of good we are led deeper into the garden of God’s life and blessing. When we choose evil, we are led away from God.
But that night while walking, the Lord revealed something else: the split in the path changes the deeper we go. As we advance in the life of faith, as we get better and better at choosing good over evil, God sets before us new and harder choices.
It’s no longer just choosing between good and evil. We also have to choose between the easy way and the hard way.
The natural human response is to choose the easy way. But the serious Christian, seeking deeper union with God, is called to subdue the natural part of him or herself.
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)
Here, the soul is again faced with two paths. It’s not the good path versus the evil path. In fact neither one is necessarily evil. But one path is infinitely more heroic and saint-making than the other. That path is hard. It requires the soul to put God and neighbor before self. Therefore it requires a renunciation of one’s will. It requires a certain amount of suffering.
The other path is easy. It may not break a commandment or cause harm to anyone (so it is not evil). But it doesn’t bear the fruit that the other (harder) path does.
When I approached this split the other night I felt the Lord calling me deeper into the garden of God. And not just me. But you, too.
If you’ve gotten this far in this blog — and didn’t quit reading at “suffering” — then the good Lord is calling you deeper, too. He’s calling you to a special union with Him.
And friend, that union comes with His power.
I think this is the problem with the world nowadays. Many Christians have an unwillingness to suffer. And I’m as guilty of it as anyone. That’s why the Lord revealed it to me.
We want to be fed. Which isn’t itself bad. But after we’ve been fed, we are then called to feed others. We are called to go out, to serve — not necessarily in public ministry, but definitely privately in our homes and families.
Early in the journey of faith we want the devotionals that are easy and quick. We want the preachers that make us feel good. We weigh our spiritual practices based on what we will get out of it.
But eventually we come to that split in the path (between easy and hard) where God asks what we will put into it.
On the hard path, He asks us to give Him new devotion. This new prayer life might take longer and require fasting. So it might not be as appealing. In fact, we might even feel a strong aversion for it. But that’s because this kind of prayer is doing battle in the unseen realm and the enemy doesn’t want you doing it.
This kind of prayer is completely self sacrificing. It’s giving all to God, for God’s sake and the sake of others, even the whole world. It is not for self.
Friends, this kind of prayer life is a portal leading deep into union with God. And through this union comes power. It is the fulfillment of Galatians 2:20.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
But again, we don’t “have” to choose this hard path. We can stay on the easy path in a more comfortable faith. This is not by any means a “bad” path.
But some of you are called to more. If you’re still reading this after seeing “fasting” and “self sacrificing” then you’re one of the called.
The Lord has set before you two paths. One path will lead you along a life of faith much as it is now. It will be familiar and comfortable. Very little will change. God will continue to watch over you and your loved ones.
The other path will be very different. It will lead deep into the heart of God where He will not only watch over you but share Himself with you. Here, you will take hold of His sword and do battle. You will wield His power in earth and dismantle the army of His enemy.
This path will be hard. Because, friend, it is quite literally war. The good news is, victory is ours.