My husband introduced me to Thomas a Kempis years ago. The Imitation of Christ is a result of Kempis' devotional writings while a monk at Mount St. Agnes during the early 1400's. He had a keen insight and awareness of human nature and the emptiness that exists without the love of God in the life of individuals.
Returning home Monday evening from church commitments I picked up Bill's well worn and underlined copy to see what I would see. Given the recent devotionals on enduring difficulties I was moved by the following words.
Be assured of this, that you must live a dying life. And the more completely a man dies to self, the more he begins to live to God. No man is fit to understand heavenly things, unless he is resigned to bear hardships for Christ's sake. Nothing is more acceptable to God, and nothing more salutary for yourself, than to suffer gladly for Christ's sake. And if it lies in your choice, you should choose rather to suffer hardships for Christ's sake, than to be refreshed by many consolations; for thus you will more closely resemble Christ...
Had there been a better way, more profitable to the salvation of mankind than suffering, then Christ would have revealed it in His word and life. But He clearly urges both His own disciples and all who wish to follow Him to carry the cross, saying, "If any will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." Therefore, when we have read and studied all things, let this be our final resolve: "that through much tribulation we must enter the Kingdom of God."