I have written elsewhere about deliberate practice. Simply, it is choosing to work in a focused way on the weakest parts of what you are best at. Such specific work can, I think, apply in following Jesus.
And it came to mind when looking at what Jesus said about gates and roads.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. [Matthew 7:13-14]
Lots of people talk about following, but not many follow through. Many of us talk about what we ought to do, but few people actually do those things. Many people lay their hand on the latch, but few lift it.
I’m pretty sure that Jesus isn’t talking about artificially narrowed gates, those with narrowly defined boundaries of human rules that count. He doesn’t need to. He has already clearly identified edges that talk about hate and lust and lies and religious ostentatiousness and praying only for an audience and ungraceful judging. Those edges make the gate pretty narrow.
And yet, those edges make for a sense of hope. Treating people that lovingly, loving God that simply, bring a sense of clarity. We can’t measure up without asking for help. Jesus is available to help. To enter the gate, to walk that path, we have to give up our ability to try to live successfully with unmeetable standards, but in the giving up, living becomes relationship.
It takes consistent, deliberate choices. Choosing to follow, choosing to focus, choosing to refine that part today, this part tomorrow.
But choosing isn’t easy. It’s easier to just do it all.
Jesus seems to suggest that’s destruction.