“Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it." Matthew 7:13
This journey called life is full of ups and downs. It can be uplifting and full of awesome markers such as birth, graduations, weddings, celebrations, promotions and just plain laughter. It can also be full of heart breakers such as death, divorce, suspension or termination, back stabbing and the like. Then there seems to be the mediocre. The ups and downs of emotion: joy, happiness, love, laughter, depression, hatred, loneliness, etc. This is the journey we call life and there is no way to jump off the train without getting hurt or dying (attempted or successful suicide) as well as there is no way to bear it all without the Conductor of our lives to reassure us of the bumps and bruises we may get when we are pushed, forced or fall down.
The verse today speaks so much to me. I picture this very narrow but worn path met with distractions, vines in the way, hanging limbs that look as they may fall at any time and a dusty, sometimes uncomfortable road leading to the Way, the Truth and the Life; Jesus. But in all actuality He is the reason that path is worn. He walked that path centuries ago to pave the way for us, to make it a little bit easier to see this very small, very narrow path. The three years of His ministry was marked with ups (deliverances, miracles, little children, converts) and downs (death, denial, lies, ignorance of his own disciples, abuse, slander and eventually his own brutal death). But the miracle of His story, of his life on Earth is that it didn't stop there! He rose again 3 days later!!! That can be the truth for us as we who continue to walk, stumble and even fall on this very narrow path, we too can take heed and rise as well. The point is not that you have fallen; the point is that God loves you regardless and you can raise back up as Jesus did as a Holy Example!
The opposite of the narrow path is that wide, very traveled path that everyone who does not care to be careful, all those that have traveled the road that is less comfortable and those who don't know there is another road are content to walk on. The road is made in such a way that many can fit on it at a time. It's made to be more comfortable and there is less bumping into folks, less stepping on shoes, less chance to ruffle someone's feathers on the journey. Who wouldn't want this path? I walked this path for 38 years. It was comfortable, it had tents in case I wanted to rest or give up for a while. There were pit stops to sit and drink, mingle and even meet up with desirable people. What it didn't have is Jesus. I could tell there was something missing. Even when I was young. I tried talking to this God I had heard about from different churches but couldn't seem to yell loud enough over the crowds of people walking with me, and I certainly couldn't hear what He was saying to me. That became irritating and I would eventually say, "Oh never mind!" each time I tried to start this conversation. All the while the only thing He was saying was, "I love you, beloved child. Come walk with me." But that wide road looked so much more comfortable than the narrow one He was walking with those few worn, tired looking, sometimes carried people. I didn’t want to leave this road and lose my place on the road to "success" just to go over and see what He was saying to me!
What road are you on? Little do we know, the wide road has its bumps as well. Those bumps are messages sent from the One who longs to walk beside us on the narrow road. It's His way of saying, "Come to me and I will give you rest." We are so busy walking that we don't realize we need rest. We don't realize we are more tired looking than the few on the narrow path. They just don't seem to be having fun and He has to carry them sometimes! We never have to be carried on the wide road, do we? Or maybe it's that we have no one to carry us and so we just keep moving. Aren’t you tired of walking? Don't you desire rest? His arms are waiting. Walk the path of Jesus and get that rest you need! Its okay that you fall, He will catch you. He won't condemn your fall. He will only brush off the dirt and either carries you or set you back on the path, depending on the pain from that fall.
Have you been on the narrow path and gave up because you couldn't "see" God from where you were? There is a popular poem called Footprints that says on the times you only see one set of footprints, those times when you don't feel Him near, it's because He is carrying you. I like to say when I can't feel Him or He seems far away, He is preparing my table in the midst of my enemies! But I forget that and want to look to the right and the left and that's when I lose my footing. Come back to Him. His arms never get tired of being wide open for you. Walk, run, and jog.... come to Him. After all, Jesus walked this road initially and paved the way for us. He made it and He was on earth as flesh just like us, why can't we?
Jesus, thank you for marking this hard to walk road for us. Thank you for not stopping at dying for us but also rising again with all power to then give us that same power in you. This road is hard to stay on. It seems to be filled with distractions to trip us up and knock us down. Those on the wide road have their eyes always on us waiting for us to trip and fall. Give us strength to continue this journey and show them the way to walk it victoriously. In Jesus name, Amen!