Fireside: Choose the Harder Path

“But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.

For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

Philippians 1:22-24

To be or not to be

Life’s course is plotted over time by a series of simple choices. Yes or no. Stop or go. The broad way, or the narrow way.

Many dissimilarities exist from one person to the next, from one decision to the next. Bible-believing Christians can count on one likeness however, from one fork in the road to the next:

One road will always be harder.

Beyond the right-and-wrong question, picking the right course when all else seems equal will reduce to which course you can handle, and which course you hesitate before. Whether it is accepting a job offer, picking a college, shopping for a home, or going to a church, when apples meet apples, it comes down to feasibility. Which one can I handle?

John Bunyan, a stonewall pastor who was jailed for preaching without a license, faced an extreme crossroad while sitting in a prison cell. After laboriously drafted a copy of a monumental work, The Pilgrim’s Progress, he was faced with a dilemma. Hear it in his own poetic words:

Well, when I had thus put mine ends together,
I show'd them others that I might see whether
They would condemn them, or them justify:
And some said, 'let them live'; some, 'let them die':
Some said, 'John, print it'; others said, 'not so':
Some said, 'it might do good'; others said, 'no'.
Now was I in a strait, and did not see
Which was the best thing to be done by me:
At last I thought, since you are thus divided,
I print it will, and so the case decided.
For, thought I, some I see would have it done, 
Though others in that channel do not run.
To prove then who advised for the best,
Thus I thought fit to put it to the test.

When faced with equal opinions, equal odds, and obvious hardships, he chose the way that cost him most opposition. He and his family were barely scraping by with him as a tinkerer(handyman) part-time and a prison-bound preacher full-time. Yet, he decided to personally finance his book at great sacrifice, with the attitude: “If the Lord isn’t in it- at least I tried.”

How contrary to comfort-seeking, pleasure-loving, and leisure-taking. We let so many good fruits die on the vine, thinking, “Well, God can make it happen and he doesn’t need me; so I’ll just stand by and watch.”

Christians have been immensely blessed by the parable called The Pilgrim’s Progress. I pray for more of the mettle that muscled it into production.

However, the narrow way continued straight up the Hill, its name being Difficulty.
So Christian first drank at the spring for refreshment, and then commenced to climb up the Hill, saying:

This Hill, though high, I covet to ascend,

The difficulty will not me offend:

For I perceive the way to life lies here;

Come, pluck up, heart; lets neither faint nor fear:

Better, though difficult, the right way to go,

Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.

-Excerpt from The Pilgrim’s Progress

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