Choosing Your Hard - Day 12

"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Matthew 7:14, RSV

Good understanding giveth favor, but the way of transgressors is hard.

Proverbs 13:15, KJV


There can be no question that both the wicked and the lazy continually deceive themselves in many ways. Perhaps the greatest deception of all is in their choosing of the so-called "easy path". When I was a young man in college and the choice between playing or studying came up, I nearly always chose the playing option. It was the easiest (and by far the most enjoyable) of the two choices, yet when it came time to pay the piper at exam time, I was always kicking myself for having taken to path that appeared so easy. It seems I always paid a hard price for those easy times through the stresses and consequences of poor grades. As I got older I learned to "choose my hard", and it actually made life easier in the long run.


I learned that doing hard things in the beginning paid big dividends, whereas doing the easy things nearly always came with a big price.


Hopefully you are seeing this pay off in your Bible readings during the past dozen days. This is the 12th day of the challenge to read through the New Testament in 30 days, and you will be finishing up the Gospel of John today. This is no small accomplishment, and it cannot have been easy for you. Many do not spend a lot of time in reading (where would you find the time?) so it has been a struggle to carve out the time to do this reading. Many of you have small children, and fitting the readings around your schedule has been difficult. Many are just used to cruising mindlessly through life, so the discipline required to shut off the computers, cell phones, video games and the television sets has been a monumental task.


That is the hard. Now look at what your choice of taking the hard path has accomplished:


You have immersed yourself in the life and ministry of Christ. You have come to know Him in ways you many have never known Him before. You see His love, His compassion, and His sacrifice for you. Further, you have become to witness the grace of God in ways that you may have never seen before. During 12 short days your life has begun to change in ways that are as good as they were needed. You are beginning to see that this life was never designed as the "rat race" in which you have been competing for so long, but instead is a rational choice between the paths of hard effort and hard consequences.


Well done!


With the culmination of today's readings in John 14-21, you will have also accomplished the hardest part of the challenge. Bible reading is now becoming a habit for you. As with any good habit, there is a benefit. In the case of the habit of reading God's holy Word, you have chosen a most excellent habit. Now, keep going! Tomorrow's reading begins with the Book of Acts. It tells of the formation of the early church as well as it's terms of "membership" and it's purpose. In the rest of the New Testament you will read of not only how to become a Christian, but all of the beauties of the fruits of the Spirit that will result from your choice to follow Christ for the rest of your life, should you choose this hard path.


You will acquire joy and peace that you may not heretofore have considered a possibility. You will be given a hope - that confident longing - of salvation. And you will build a strong desire to share these blessings with others. A pretty tall promise for a mere investment of twelve days, to be sure. Read on to see how God is able to fulfill these promises in your life, if...


you will choose the hard path!