Yesterday, I showed, based on Jesus’ own statements, why I believe He wants to give us an enjoyable and satisfying life on top of giving us eternal life.
Why Then Is My Life Often Not That Full and Overflowing with Joy?
I’ve asked myself this same question on a number of occasions and I can’t say that I have it completely figured out, but I do have some possible answers.
I go back to what Jesus says about the road to life being narrow.
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:14 NIV
For me, there seems to be a ditch on both sides of this skinny little road.
Beware of the Ditches Along the Road to Life
I miss the abundant and joyful life that He offers because I’m usually off on one side or the other.
Let me explain the ditches I’ve experienced in my life.
Ditch #1 that I Fall Into Along the Narrow Road to a Full Life
The first ditch I fall off into is control.
Instead of obediently following the narrow way that Jesus prescribes as the path to an abundant life, I get arrogantly impatient and begin to doubt that His way is really the best way.
I yank the wheel out of His hands and off I go.
I say, “I think I know this shortcut we can take.” Because I’m the master of shortcuts, of course. Conveniently, every time, I forget that “shortcut” is just another word for sin.
So, we try my way for a bit. I should say, “I” try my way for a bit.
I follow the desires of my flesh. I try to comfort myself. I fervidly attempt to fast-forward things in my own power (or lack thereof).
After a while or when I run hard into a wall, tired, filthy and discouraged, I look up for a moment and realize – I’m in the ditch! Wholly crap! How did I get here???
At this point, I jerk the steering wheel hard and wind up clear on the other side. Now, I enter Ditch #2.
Ditch #2 that I Fall Into Along the Narrow Road to a Full Life
There is where I wallow in self-pity and envy.
I know this ditch well. It is like a stinky pigsty full of years of crap from my lost ways. However, since it is so familiar from frequent visitations, I go headlong into it.
Whine is the native language spoken in this ditch. It goes like this (by the way, you have to imagine all these things being said in the most pitiful, self-deflated tone possible to get the full effect):
- Why doesn’t anything ever work out for me?
- God, where are you?
- I know You can fix this if You really want to. Why won’t you?
- This is just like all the other times. It never fails.
- Just once, I wished things would go my way.
- Why can’t I get anyone else to pay attention to what I want?
- I feel so alone.
- I never get any respect or appreciation.
- I just don’t understand it.
- God, please help me.
- Have mercy on me, Jesus, I need relief.
- The whining and crying continues…
As I slog along, I begin to look around at other people. They all seem so happy, healthy and vibrant. They look like SUCCESS. They have everything I wish I had.
I think, “That’s not fair! Why are they living the good life while I’m stumbling along in this smelly, demoralizing ditch? I wish I had what they have. They are so lucky. I crave that so desperately. Why, oh why God, won’t you give me what they have?”
In this ditch, I am the self-pitied, envious, whining victim. It stinks to high heaven!
Stay Out of the Ditches
Again, I’m usually in danger of going off in one of these ditches or the other. So, how do I stay out of the ditches?
If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity and their years in pleasantness and joy. Job 36:11 AMP
The solution is to get back to living in obedience to the way God has graciously detailed in the Bible (or to never leave the narrow road to begin with). This is the only way I’ve found to stay out of these ditches.
Have you experienced these ditches (or some others) in your own life? Let me know about your experiences in the comments!