The farther we progress along the path of Christian discipleship, the steeper it becomes. But when we are committed to stay on the path, then even when it goes uphill and becomes more challenging, we can’t make a U-turn to look for an easier road. Such roads exist, but they do not lead where we need to go.
Some are confused when they try to draw closer to God and find themselves facing greater problems and temptations than they did previously. Suddenly they are more aware of their weaknesses than ever before. They wonder how they can feel farther from God when they were trying to be closer to Him. To one degree or another, all 7-day Christians have experienced this phenomenon. An author I admire, Neal A. Maxwell wrote, “If we are serious about our discipleship, Jesus will eventually request each of us to do those very things which are the most difficult for us to do” (A Time to Choose, 46). Thus “sometimes the best people have the worst experiences because they are the most ready to learn” (Disciple’s Life, 20).
Powerful words! The author went far beyond writing them. He lived them as he fought valiantly against leukemia. Many who are diagnosed with a terminal illness become angry with God. They lift a clenched fist toward heaven and declare that God has abandoned them. This man chose to lift an open, submissive hand, seeking God’s help. He saw himself as passing through a time of divine tutoring and refining. He said, “Adversity can squeeze out of us the [remaining] hypocrisy that’s there. [So, for me] it’s been a great spiritual adventure, one I would not want to have missed. . . . And even though this has [had high costs], it’s been a great blessing” (Disciple’s Life, 558-559).
In Luke 12:48 we read, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Those who choose Christ find that His refining, sanctifying process is rarely quick or easy.
Christ said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me. . . . For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30). Those who accept Christ’s invitation will quickly learn that we never walk the path alone.