LENTEN DEVOTION for Thursday, March 22



Renew my commitments, O God, I am easily distracted.



Abba Ammonas was asked, "What is the 'narrow and hard way?'" (Matt. 7:14) He replied, "The 'narrow and hard way' is this, to control your thoughts, and to strip yourself of your own will, for the sake of God. This is also the meaning of the sentence, 'Lo, we have left everything and followed you.'"

Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matt. 7:13-14) 


In these latter days of Lent, it is easy to forego and forget the practices or non-practices committed to in those first days. The desert teachers were well aware that the "narrow and hard way" Jesus calls us on is beset by many stumbling blocks, temptations, and troubles. They were very critical of when they faltered, but very empathetic and understanding when anyone else fell along the path.

One of the reasons the desert teachers warned that the Jesus way is so hard is because our very wants and desires often go against it. This is what Ammonas meant by "will." There is a strong personal pull in us to seek out comforts, to make decisions based on ease, to tend toward self-preservation and to protect ours and our own. And yet, Jesus calls us out of comfort, to do what is difficult and necessary, to not save ourselves but others and to give up our way and give away our possessions. This is the "narrow and hard way" many choose not to follow.

The desert teachers will not relent. They continue to remind us that Jesus' way is not for the faint of heart. Many who read Jesus' words and the desert commentary wonder why follow on the path of discipleship if it is so hard. But the desert monks insist that we have ignored our true needs and desires by going after whatever easily satisfies. This is the wide and easy way. The desert thesis is this: our deepest longings will be met on the way Jesus leads. It is worth seeing if this thesis holds true.


God in Christ, I resolve to follow you again. That means today I commit to...   

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