Have you ever heard someone say, “Anyone can float down stream with a bunch of dead fish.” Yet that is what many of us choose-to go with the natural flow of things. The world is in no shortage of under-achievers. Many will arrive at the end of their lives with regret wishing they had traveled a different path and made different choices.
The philosophy of today’s popular culture is to have what we want now. We need make no payments until next year. We can live together first rather than waiting to be married. “Go ahead, you deserve it”or “you can put that off till later”-“eat, drink, and be merry”. Paul writes about this mindset in Philippians:
“Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I've warned you of them many times; sadly, I'm having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ's Cross. 19 But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites. But there's far more to life for us. We're citizens of high heaven! We're waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He'll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.” Phil. 3:19 The Message
Let’s face it-we have impulses, drives and appetites. The question is whether we will allow these natural desires to be in control of our lives. It is very difficult to live a life of self-control. The world is full of people who are not even trying. Because of this, everything is geared toward gratifying human wants as quickly and conveniently as possible. We have become totally devoted to maximizing comfort and minimizing pain.
Whatever a person looks to for help or satisfaction can become a god. Paul says that many make the fulfillment of desire their god. Who or what is your God? What do you look to for security, wisdom, and guidance? What or who do you worship? What has the most worth in your life? That is your god, and you must look to it for a compelling vision.
Jesus speaks of a difficult road that leads to two entry ways. One road-two directions. Large crowds of people flowing in one direction encouraging each other along the way in a massive cesspool of cultural deception. It is a wide path with popular opinion to give momentum and carry you along. It leads to heartache and death.
“You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.” Matt. 7:13-14
There is another path, a narrow path, going against the current and requiring focus and discipline. According to the Lord, not many go this direction, thus, not many find life.
Life is what this is all about, isn’t it? I believe that many of us have seen the wrong vision. We have believed a lie about what life really is. We are only pursuing what we have been shown by the world. It looks attractive and feels good so we go for it.
Following Christ for me has become about catching a vision of something more. It’s about more than just getting out some junk. It’s seeing who I can become in Christ. It’s about seeing the difference I can make in the lives of those I love. Yes, we need to see the destruction that can happen as a result of an out of control life, but we also need to clearly see a vision of the incredible possibilities of a life lived well. This is the kind of vision that provides motivation to supress impulses, press through barriers and do the right things in life.
Writing these daily writings is difficult. Tonight as I sit down to write I feel tired. The TV looks more appealing to me than this computer. But I have a vision. In my mind I see people reading these words and God using them to help them. I also see in my mind’s eye a developing gift that God may want to use in the future. I think He may even want me to write a book or two someday. So I need to learn how to write well. That is taking some serious discipline. But God’s Spirit is helping me. He is keeping a vision of who I am becoming and the difference I can make before me. It motivates me beyond my impulses to be lazy or go play golf when I know I need to write.
Jesus’ way of self-control is a difficult path for sure. It can seem a lonely path at times. But we are not alone or without help. If you ask for God’s strength, He will give it. And remember, this “road less traveled” is actually going somewhere. I can see God’s vision for my life and it looks good to me-better than what this world is temporarily offering.
Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever. I John 2:15-17
May you see God’s vision of a better life. May it guide you away from pain and into Joy!