“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore”—Psalm 16:11 (ESV).
January is almost over. I wonder how many people have already given up on their resolutions. We have high hopes at the beginning of a New Year. We resolve to lose weight, get healthy, quit smoking or get out of debt and save more money.
Why is it so difficult to follow through? To stay the course? To reap the benefits of staying on the path? To reach our goals?
Is it because we try to traverse the path on our own? Maybe, instead of jumping in with both feet, we need to remind ourselves to take it one step at a time. There are no shortcuts to success.
Shortcuts Lead to Failure
Over lunch recently, my friend studied and worried about the menu choices. She couldn’t find a choice that fit with her current diet. Her diet plan was for weight loss, not healthy eating. I knew it wasn’t the first diet she’d tried and failed at. After finally making her lunch selection, she pulled a spiral-bound book from her purse.
The book was part of a purchased diet plan, one of the current crazes to lose weight fast. I wanted to remind her, once again, there are no shortcuts to lasting weight loss. In my younger years, I tried several diets. They were, like her plan, shortcuts to fast weight loss.
It was only when I chose a healthy path to weight loss in my early 40s that I succeeded. It didn’t happen overnight but required one step at a time to stay on course and maintain a new lifestyle. It’s not easy but anything worthwhile isn’t.
Staying the Course
If we want to succeed, we must stay the course to achieve results. Those results are seen when we lose and keep the weight off, when we are no longer addicted to tobacco and when we pay off our debt.
As followers of Jesus, there’s another path requiring us to stay the course. If we are true disciples, if we want our lives to reflect His glory, then we must enter the narrow gate.
Matthew writes in chapter 7, verses 13-14 that we must “enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (NIV).
Jesus Didn’t Take the Easy Way Out
After being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to fast for 40 days and nights in the wilderness. During this time, Satan shows up to tempt Jesus.
Satan’s plan was an easy way out, a shortcut designed to derail Jesus’ mission. Satan knew where Jesus was going, but he tempted Him with three options to get there faster. In Matthew 4, we read about the temptations:
- “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
- “Want fame? Just leap from this temple. God’s angels will protect you.”
- “Interested in glory and followers? Just bow down to me.”
Each time, Jesus refused until Satan departed. Jesus returned to Galilee to begin His ministry. He didn’t take the easy way out and neither should we.
But Jesus was God’s Son
We might think it was easier for Jesus to resist temptation. But when we revisit the night Jesus prayed and wept in the Garden of Gethsemane, we know that’s not true.
Jesus was sorrowful, troubled, His soul overwhelmed. He knew what was to come and turned to prayer. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39 NIV).
Three times Jesus prayed for God’s will. Luke 22:44 explains Jesus’ state of mind this way: “And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Reaping the Benefits
Staying on the path Jesus has prepared for us leads to joy. Without His moral compass, we remain lost in the wilderness, tempted to choose the easy way out.
Psalm 16:11 is a great reminder: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
We can’t traverse the path of life on our own. The path may not be easy but the rewards are eternal.
I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, or visit my blog for more inspiration at www.carolaround.com. If you need a speaker or workshop leader, you can contact me at the above e-mail or through my website. I’d be delighted to hear from you.
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