The Narrow Way
The easier we try to make life the harder it gets. There are plenty of charlatans ready to promise an easy way for each and every aspect of our lives, and plenty of fools willing to follow. Let’s not be among them.
The Dutch philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, concluded his work The Ethics with this line: “All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.”
Why is excellence so rare in any arena? Because it is difficult. If it were easy, it would be common. Why then would we expect the aspect of life that is supremely important to be any different? The inner life is difficult, but the joy that comes from throwing ourselves into this quest has no limits.
In this week’s Gospel Jesus counsels us, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.”
What is he saying? Jesus is saying, it’s harder than you think, it’s harder than most people represent it to be, it requires real effort and intentionality, it will not simply happen, it has to be desired and sought.
Our lazy human nature is ever seeking the easy way, the path of least resistance, the most pleasurable or convenient option. But are we ever better for it?
The wide road lays before us the seduction of pleasure, but pleasure always gives less than it promises, and is completely incapable of delivering what we truly desire, which is fullness of life.
Jesus is clear. The wide path is easy and leads to destruction. The narrow way is difficult and leads to life. We find ourselves at the crossroads, this fork in the road, dozens of times every day. The narrow path to one side and the wide path to the other, the easy way to one side and the difficult way to the other. Which will you choose today?
There are no signposts except those in our hearts. One reads life and the other says destruction. The choice is yours, and mine, and it is a choice we are constantly making. Are you choosing life or destruction?
If we cannot find or justify easy and convenient, we next look for excuses and exceptions. I can’t find one. I cannot think of a single area of life where the easy road leads to success. Personal finances, health and wellness, career, study and scholarship, dating and marriage, parenting, all require the discipline and effort of the narrow way. The wide road leads to destruction in every area of life. The discipline of the narrow way is indispensable.
The illusion we subscribe to is that the narrow way and the wide road both lead to the same destination. They don’t.
“Enter by the narrow way.” It’s a difficult idea, but it unlock the secret to the deepest desires of our hearts.
What we have discovered here is that the narrow way isn’t an actual path, it is a way of walking any path. The discipline that defines the narrow way is a necessary condition of anything worthwhile as a human being. Look for the narrow way in all things. It may be heart-wrenchingly difficult at times, but it will always deliver on its promise.