Narrow road walking
February 8, 2022, 1:35 PM

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

If I had a nickel for every time some well-intentioned friend, family, or church member has asked me, "Have you ever thought about writing a book?" I would be a millionaire, okay... I'd have enough change to at least order something off the McDonald's dollar menu. The answer is yes, like 80% of the population, I dream of seeing my work on the shelves of Barnes & Noble or available on Amazon. 

Some of my ideas remain stuck in my head. Others get scribbled on a napkin. I have half a chapter typed up on my laptop. I start with a burst of flames, only to fizzle out just as quickly. I'm not alone in my lack of follow-through and failing to see something to completion. Out of every 1,000 people that set out to write a book, only 30 finish. 

It's not just us writers. Some see a runner taking off like a gazelle and want to tackle a marathon. Others will come across an article from a minimalist organizational wizard and go about decluttering their mess. Some will watch an inspirational Ted Talk from a marketing guru and desire to be the next great entrepreneur.  

People love the idea of being different but hate the execution required to turn a dream into a reality. They have plenty of hope, not a lot of hustle: dreams but no determination. When the going gets tough, the tough might get going, but the rest of us stay where we are.

In today's passage, Jesus highlights how our human nature will always choose the easier way. Forget the road less traveled; we head in the direction of the broad paved path. Jesus recognized the danger of following the path of least resistance. He understood it didn't lead to transformation, hope, and long-lasting heart change. 

The modern church is often guilty of painting a walk with Jesus as appealing, comfortable, and easy: follow these three simple steps, say this short little prayer, and here's a verse to deal with this problem. As a result, we treat Jesus more like a self-help guru and less like our Lord. We say we want more of Jesus, yet, deep down inside, we want Him to change us just enough that we can handle our business and go back to living life on our own. 

We think faith is a paint-by-numbers when, in reality, faith puts us in situations where we're drawing outside the lines. Jesus' invitation to "come and follow me" requires sacrifice. His words, the ones we're to follow, are unsettling and countercultural. He doesn't describe a life of convenience but a narrow path that relatively few of us are willing to cross.

Christ's forgiveness is a free gift, one we couldn't gain through our efforts. This isn't about proving our devotion, displaying our spiritual worthiness, or earning salvation. Neither does this entail walking a tight rope of moral perfection. Think dependency and trust rather than self-determination and duty. 

What makes the narrow road hard is the opposite of what makes the broad highway easy. It is challenging to reject the pull of what we think and feel. However, giving in takes no effort, while staying true to what is right entails perseverance and steadiness, especially when we face adversity, when we want to indulge, or when we want to escape. 

Submission goes against the grain of our "me first" culture. The narrow road requires us to slow down, merge, and submit everything to Him. We must give up the allure of what is comfortable and live in submission to His ways. Rather than reacting to what we see and feel, we respond to what we believe by placing one foot in front of another. How might Jesus be challenging you to follow Him in a more uncomfortable way? What would following the narrow road look like for you in a trying circumstance you currently face?

Prayer: Father God, convenience never leads to Your heart. The change I desire to see entails effort and faith displayed through my words and actions. May I step out of my comfort zone by stepping toward opportunities that require me to trust You with all that I have. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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