What is the quality of this light, the light of God, which increasingly shines within us, as we give ourselves to Him, to do His will? It is a joyful light; a light of peace radiating joy, overcoming the darkness which has ruled within us. Though at first, we might approach this light with fear and trembling, by His mercy, we can be transformed, so that in place of fear we find love, and in place of trembling we find courage. Even repentance, that first step we take when we turn away from all that has kept us distant from Him, is sprinkled with joy. At first, as we approach Him with our burdens of sin, all we may see is the shame that we carry, or the weight of past accusations and remorse, but as we sacrifice these things to His light, our burden is lifted, and He encourages us with joy, to continue on our journey into His Kingdom; so that, in time, we make this journey our life’s purpose, and greet joy as our constant companion.
I left the paths that lead to nowhere, for the path that never ends. It is a difficult path, yet it is an easy path; and it is a joyful path. Jesus tells us the gate is narrow, and the way is difficult which leads to life, and few find it (Matthew 7:14) yet He also tells us that when we come to Him, our labors and heavy burdens will be lifted, and we will find rest from them all; because His way is easy and His burdens are light (Matthew 11:28-30). I have experienced both of these aspects of His way. I know the difficulty of leaving one track behind, and climbing onto another; of reversing all of the inertia built up from a life given over to hollow pursuits, and I have felt the narrowness of the new gate, which can at first appear so lonely, and too costly to enter. However, I have also tasted the joy that He gives us as we continue on the way, as He lightens our burdens, and the way is made easier.
In our world of constant motion and endless activity, it is a difficult thing to enter the peaceful gate, and to dwell with God. He tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” By giving up our endless activity and our swirling thoughts, and by making stillness a daily practice, in time, we can begin to see glimpses of the heavenly kingdom prepared for us. And we must leave behind so much, forsaking things we are attached to, or to which we have grown accustomed—whether they are outside of us in the world of our senses, or inside of us in the world of our thoughts—in order to be made anew, transformed, and given a foretaste of the Kingdom of God on earth. Just as Christ sacrificed Himself for us, He asks us to sacrifice ourselves for Him. What we give up however, is nothing compared with what He gives us in return; we will lose the worldly paths, but we gain the heavenly one, and in so doing, He restores us to our rightful selves, heals us of all brokenness, and makes us whole—at peace and in joy eternal.