True, one may know man’s final goal: communion with God; and one may describe the path to it: faith, and walking in the commandments, with the aid of Divine grace. One need only say in addition: here is the path–start walking! This is easily said; but how to do it?
For the most part the very desire to walk is lacking. The soul, attracted by some passion or other, stubbornly repulses every compelling force and every call; the eyes turn away from God and do not want to look at Him. The law of Christ is not to one’s liking; there is no disposition even to listen to it….
But suppose someone has turned toward God, suppose he has come to love His law…will [we] be successful merely because we desire it to be? No. Besides the desire one must also have the strength and knowledge to act…he who begins with the aid of grace to strive toward God on the path of Christ’s law, will inevitably be threatened by the danger of losing his way at the crossroads…of imagining himself saved. These crossroads are unavoidable because of the sinful inclination and disorder of one’s faculties, which are capable of presenting things in a false light–to deceive and destroy a man….
These general considerations which are unavoidable to all on the path of salvation render indispensable certain guiding rules of the Christian life by which it should be determined: how to attain to the saving desire for communion with God and the zeal to remain in it, and how to reach God without misfortune amidst all the crossroads…in other words, how to begin to live the Christian life and how, having begun, to perfect oneself in it.
~St Theophan the Recluse