Is the Path Straight and Narrow?

Posted on April 6, 2015 | 7 comments

labyrinth

Have you ever waited in a cue for a ride at a theme park? It can be frustrating when progress – defined as getting closer to the front of the line – seems to take turns that lead you further away from the goal.

Same can be true of our spiritual life, as progress – defined as more fully living in our identity in Christ – is sometimes marked by taking steps backward. (That is the point of praying while walking a prayer labyrinth like the one pictured above, the path God has you on is not a straight one.)

The process of developing awareness of what we cling to for a false sense of wholeness apart from God is filled with failures and set backs. It is part of developing perseverance, but a part that tends to be unwelcome.

When we make one step forward, we do not like to experience making two steps backward.

All of us crave certainty. This has caused us to assume a linear approach to following Christ. Every day in Christ, we assume, is going to be a day of growth – of hearing the voice of the Father get louder and louder beckoning us towards Him.

Part of this assumption is that our struggles will all be external, and we ignore the ways of the false self that we have lived in for so long.

But there is so much to learn about what tempts us and the patterns of the old nature when we pay heed to the two steps back. They are as much part of the journey as is every victory we experience.

Here is a truism about our selfish nature: we want the follow Christ daily without the deny your self daily.

If the path is narrow, we want it to be straight as well. That way we can know we are making progress.

But, here is the truism about discipleship: there is no following Christ without denying our self. And the heart – the seat of our identity – is deceitful above all things. A component of the deceit is that if we are following Christ ‘correctly’, then every day will be lived better than the last.

Following Christ ‘correctly’ means developing a deeper and deeper understanding of what you are to deny. How deep the desire is within us to have wholeness without God.

And that means that the path we are on, the narrow path of following Christ, is going to have turns and detours. Places where we have to backtrack. Being steadfast through these times represent just as much progress, and are just as important (if not more so), as the times the path is straight.

When was the last time your path of following Christ was not straight? What realizations about your self did you come to as a result?

I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and Christian identity. Also, I am the author of the forthcoming book Discovering Your Root: Developing Your Identity in Christ.

Services I offer are one-on-one coaching, group coaching,  speaking at organizations/churches, leadership workshops, and church retreats. For more info, click here to contact me.

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7 Comments

  1. Important things to think about, thank you. That “Deny ourselves” thing is so hard. Thankful that He is Sufficient and can help us when we feel stuck on ourselves. Stopping over from the #TellHisStory linkup.

  2. This is a struggle that is paramount in my life, Scott! I feel such resolve when I am finished praying or studying the Word and I’ll get up and go out my door to find that resolve evaporating the moment I face difficulty. I want to remain in control and not “die to self” in those crucial, faith-stirring moments. But if I looked back on my life, I’d say that I’m stronger than I was a decade ago. I just wish that I was more faithful in those times and more consistent about my “death to self and living to Christ!” So I’m definitely a “work-in-progress!” Thanks for another thought-provoking post and I do hope you are doing well, my friend!

  3. Beautiful words, here! Over the last year, I have learned that God’s path isn’t a straight one and that in taking steps back, I can gain a whole lot. The Lord has revealed himself to me in ways that I could never imagine, and I am so thankful. His ways are always better than my own.

  4. Such important words to remember as I think we all struggle with this at times in our life. May He help us to deny ourselves even when the path is not straight or clear. May we keep our eyes on the One who knows exactly where He is taking us. Blessings!

  5. Was a lovely read….thank you!!!

  6. Wonderful thoughts. Thanks for sharing with us at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop!

  7. Your post reminds me a recent sermon at church. They were talking about the “Path” the Israelites had to take from Egypt to the Promised Land. Obviously, it wasn’t a straight path (due to their own stiff-necked-ness.) Instead it was all knotted, curved, back and forth.

    Sometimes we are like those Israelites– God puts us on a squiggly path because if He didn’t– we wouldn’t need Him! Although it is hard, I *think* in my heart of hearts I would rather wander around with Jesus going in circles than go “straight” on my own way. Thanks for this reminder, Scott. Appreciate the work you do here.

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