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  • Writer's pictureTrace Pirtle

Following Christ: "It Don't Come Easy" Pt 2

Updated: Jan 17

This post will discuss why following Christ on the narrow path is the only way to enter heaven. "It don't come easy," but the eternal rewards are worth keeping the faith in as we run, swim, or bike our earthly race to the finish line. Christians should have a passion for Christ as triathletes have for their sport.

Quick Review of Part 1:

In the previous post, we looked at how progressive and prosperity-oriented Christians follow the path of least resistance. This path quickly taps into basic human needs and wants, which are so easy for the enemy to exploit.

This broad way is easy because personal change is neither expected nor required. It is fully inclusive and aligns with the world. The wide path encourages adding, deleting, and sometimes outright rejecting the Bible as God's Word and Jesus as the Son of God!

Its popularity is growing. More are turning lukewarm because Christianity can be treated as a hobby, easy to pick up, put down, or quit altogether. But the broad way is inconsistent with the Scriptures. It leads to destruction. Jesus gave us fair warning,

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB)

It's time to take the narrow path that leads to life through Jesus.

Following Christ: The Narrow Path

Freedom and Responsibility. God's Word, from the Old Testament through the New Testament, is full of peas and carrots. If you recall from the last post, peas, carrots, peanut butter, and jelly are metaphors for freedom and responsibility. So they naturally go together whether you like them or not. :-)

Our life is healthier and more enjoyable when freedom and responsibility are present. God blesses us with many freedoms (within limits), yet He expects us to be responsible and holds us accountable. God's accountability instrument is His Word--The Bible--all 66 books/epistles.

We aren't free to say, "I don't like these peas, so I'll substitute cotton candy from the carnival clown down the street." Or "carrots trigger early childhood memories, so I'll simply deny they are good for me and not eat them." But, as in life, poor spiritual choices lead to poor outcomes. As the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy,

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

Is The Narrow Path Too Harsh and Impossible to Live? Some people think God's Word is too harsh. They believe living according to God's Word is impossible in contemporary society. They say the Bible is no longer valid and reliable today. This is a mistake.

Is it difficult? Yes. Jesus told us the narrow path is difficult, but He didn't say it was impossible. In fact, He says,

"If you can believe, all things are possible for the one who believes." Mark 9:23

Did you get that? ALL things are possible, and the key factor is belief. Once we start experiencing God's encouragement, we develop more courage and confidence in the Word and less in the world. We align with God's purpose through His Word, His Will, not our own. When we have that sold-out, all-in, on-fire faith, it is much easier to walk the narrow path. At that moment, we realize,

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Triathlon Training and Following Christ on the Narrow Path: An Analogy. Let's look at an analogy that can serve as an example of following Christ on the narrow path. How about training for a triathlon? I'm sure that is somewhere on your Bucket List! Possibly number 777.

Let's say you've tried, and failed, in the past to win a triathlon. I didn't say compete in the event(s.) I mean, WIN. Many people will say, "That's impossible." Others say, "I could complete, but not actually win."

The Encouraging Offer. Let's give you a boost of encouragement. What if you were offered the Master Trainer who had won every challenge He ever faced? He is perfect in every way and He has agreed to become your 24/7 coach.

In addition, He will give you His "Ultimate Training Guide for Triathlon Success" (with a certificate of authenticity, and a 2,000-year verifiable track record of success, of course). This Guide alone is priceless.

But wait! There's more! Your Trainer even guarantees that you will win your race(s) IF you follow His plan. Try getting that deal at the local YMCA or personal trainer you met at Puffy's Taco stand.

How bright and confident are you feeling on a scale from 1 (low) to 10 (high)? TEN or close to it, right? Even on a gloomy, pessimistic day, you must be encouraged by this Trainer and His willingness to help you!

Is The Offer Too Good To Be True? But now the Trainer says, "I have a few non-negotiable conditions. Here's a partial list:"

  • You will have no other trainers. I AM it;

  • You must have 100% faith in your Trainer;

  • You must have a burning passion for winning your race(s);

  • You must believe that you can win with My assistance because, without Me, you are doomed to failure;

  • The Ultimate Training Guide is the only one you need. Throw away your "Compete Idiot's Guide to Triathlon Training," all short-cuts, gadgets, pills, potions, and especially the perpetually popular late-night infomercial product "Winning Triathlons the Easy Way for Sleepwalking Couch Potatoes" by Slick Willie Klinton;

  • You understand that The Guide contains 1,050 commandments, each critically important for your success. If you follow them, you will win your race(s);

  • You will make no excuses for your mistakes, which you will make in abundance. Don't worry; I AM with you;

  • You will learn from your mistakes and strive to change your ways. Make new mistakes, but minimize old ones. Learn from your pain and suffering. "It don't come easy.";

  • You will accept responsibility for your training, give your best effort every day, and be ready for My no-notice progress reports. Who knows, I may even show up when you least expect it. Look up. Be ready;

Even after initially saying "yes," some will reconsider and say, "That's a very long list! I don't know if I can accept Your conditions."

In response, the Trainer says, "For many are invited, but few are chosen." Matthew 22:14 It's not that you can't do it; you won't do it "because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move.' Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

The Real Deal Christian Triathletes. If you talk with sold-out, all-in, on-fire triathletes, you'll discover they would kill (not literally) for the above offer. For this group, the Trainer could multiply the "conditions" by 1,000, and they would agree all the more.

They would take their God-given "talents" and multiply them through diligent training and practice while in One-on-one coaching with the Trainer.

At the end of the race, as the triathlete stands alone on the Winner's platform, the Trainer comes forward to present the winning trophy. The Trainer smiles proudly, "Well done, My good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your Master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21).

Concluding Thoughts

Even if you aren't a passionate Christian triathlete, I pray you can apply this analogy to your life. "It don't come easy" if you choose the path of life, the narrow path that leads to Jesus. But say "yes" to God's offer of salvation, including the freedoms and responsibilities that come with it, and you will be at the top of the winner's podium. Then, with your bike held high, you'll shout, "Here I am, Lord, if you need me!"

Note: I coordinated all aspects of this post, in prayer, with the Holy Spirit. I believe it accurately reflects His Spirit and my slow but determined progress on the narrow path. As I slog along, slipping, sliding, and face-planting in the mud puddles of mistakes, I assume full responsibility for my errors and omissions. I pray that God retains His sense of humor with my gross lack of knowledge and qualification for "writing about and for" Him.

My Prayer for You: May our Heavenly Father shine His light on the narrow path ahead. May He keep you focused, not turning to the left or the right, but moving straight ahead toward your finish line and the eternal reward that awaits. May He give you the wisdom to discern where the narrow path intersects with the broad and continue (perhaps alone) in the direction of Jesus. Finally, may He keep you safe on this challenging yet rewarding journey. See you on the narrow path! In Jesus' name. AMEN!

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About Me

Image of Dr. Trace Pirtle sitting on park bench identified as Jesus.

Greetings, I'm Trace!
I'm a retired counselor education professor who spent 35 years in the "helping professions." I'm a U.S. Air Force veteran who served as a Missile Launch Officer with I.C.B.M's during the Cold War (1980's). Today, I'm an "all-in" believer working full-time for our Lord Jesus Christ. I've included my personal testimony if you are interested. 
May God bless you beyond your wildest dreams!

In His Service,

Trace Pirtle

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"I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me."

Philippians 4:13

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