Read 1 Corinthians 7:29-35.

I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:35)

There are many wide roads but only one narrowest way. The wide roads are easy. Many walk along them. Walking in the company of a crowd is comforting. But they don’t get very far up the mountain. These roads narrow as they approach the foothills. They get rough as the elevation starts to increase. They turn aside when the real mountain starts.

The narrow way heads straight up the mountain. It’s not easy to find—or to follow. At first. It’s rocky and steep. Progress seems slow, although since the path is straight it is actually the fastest way. And as you get a little way up the mountain, the narrow way opens up a bit and becomes easier to follow. Near the top the way is wide and easy and free.

One of the wide roads leads through the city. There are shops on both sides. People stop and browse. They purchase food and clothing and possessions and titles and responsibilities. Of course, so heavily laden, they don’t have a prayer of climbing the mountain. They do well to get to the foothills.

Another wide road leads through the church grounds. There are crowds of people and booths and stations. At one booth you can read books. At another you can sing songs. Stop and hang around for a while and enjoy! At another booth you can view beautiful works of art. Stop. Enjoy. Notice the craftmanship. Think about how it might look in your own house. And don’t miss the reputation station. Here you can get your face painted any way you like. Maybe two or three different ways. Many people never leave the church grounds, even to enter the church.

The wide road seeks to acquire the goods of heaven. The narrow way seeks to give.

The wide road seeks glory. The narrow way seeks to be unknown.

The wide road seeks knowledge. The narrow way seeks charity.

The wide road seeks consolation. The narrow way seeks death.

The wide road seeks rest but finds a heavy burden. The narrow way seeks obedience and self-denial and suffering but finds freedom and love and peace.

Always choose what is less pleasant to self. That is the narrow way.

Desire enjoyment in nothing,
Nor knowing nor having nor being,
To come to enjoyment in all things,
To living and loving and seeing.

For more in this direction, read The Spirituality of St. John of the Cross (reading time: 20 minutes or more).

Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin University and the director of and