“I must take care above all that I cultivate communion with Christ, for though that can never be the basis of my peace – mark that – yet it will be the channel of it.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
This spring I noticed my lawn was full of a lot of dead, compressed grass (which is typical after the snow season). The weight of the snow simply smashes everything flat. The result of all this grass flattening is the lawn doesn’t grow as well as it should. Basically, it can’t breathe.
To resolve this issue, I bought a small, electric de-thatcher. Which is amazing! All I have to do is run the machine over the lawn and the de-thatcher pulls up all the dead grass and leaves it in little haystacks all over the top of the grass. It’s amazing how easily the machine works. It’s almost effortless.
But then I have to rake up all the thatch and toss it in the trash. Which is laborious and kind of boring. It takes but minutes to de-thatch the lawn. It takes hours to clean it up.
But, if I don’t do the hard work of cleaning up, I’ll never gain the result I seek: a richer, thicker, greener lawn. I’ll have only moved the dead grass from the bottom of my grass to the top.
Lately, I’ve been bumping into this verse from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 CSB)
Typically, this verse is attributed to salvation. The idea being that those who pursue Jesus’ pathway toward life will find it leads to heaven. Which I’m on board with. But I wonder if the concept of a harder, more arduous path could also be applied to our ongoing spiritual development as well.
I find the things that really promote deep spiritual growth are usually quite hard for us. And in a lot of cases, the degree of difficulty will determine whether we invest our time and energy in our own Christian maturity.
Things like prayer. Or study. Or slowing down to spend time with God. It could be meaningful service that costs us time, energy or resources. Each of these practices demand a lot from us. And so we may choose other activities that aren’t as strenuous. In essence, we are choosing the wide, easier path that doesn’t demand much of us.
But I believe the depth of our spiritual life is in direct correlation with how much of the hard work we are willing to do. We must foster personal self-discipline in order to complete the harder practices of the Christian life.
Steve Lawson wrote:
“Growth in personal holiness is largely determined by our progress in self-discipline. Without this foundational discipline, there can be no advancement in grace. Before other disciplines can be administered, whether in the home, business, or church, there first must be self-discipline.“
De-thatching my lawn was pretty easy. But raking up the dead grass felt like a grind. But unless I removed the dead grass, my lawn wouldn’t look one bit better.
As the saying goes: “Anything that comes too easy probably isn’t worth doing.”