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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Walking With Jesus

“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 NIV

Winter is definitely not my favorite season! Yet deep inside I know that all God has made is good and serves a purpose. All creation is a reflection of God’s glory. Winter also provides protection, rest and refreshment for God’s creation and for me as well. Although much of winter can be boring brown and gloomy gray nevertheless, a beautiful blanket of clean snow can cover a massive amount of ugly. Shimmering ice can drip and freeze beautiful stalactites hanging from the roof of my house while God paints amazing patterns of ice doilies on my windows. Beautiful red cardinals sing from the deep inside the green cedars and the bright red Nandina berries beam of winter joy.

So on this winter day I want to enter the garden of my heart through the narrow gate that the Bible says leads to life. This will be a day I will reflect on what can happen when I take my eyes off of Jesus. So many times in my busy life it is easier to go through the wide gate. So many times in the past my selfish attitudes and ambitions has sent me flying through the gate that sends me down the road of destruction.

Let me tell you about that road and what I experienced and observed when I traveled that road. The wide road was a busy highway. On this road I heard the cunning call of compromise. I was never alone and solitude eluded me because there were so many people on this road to keep me company. It was next to impossible to focus on anything that would lift my thoughts toward heaven. In fact the crowds and often responsibilities lured me away from God and straight into a “self-centered mentality”. At any given time it was easy for me to rub shoulders with those who were bitter because life had not worked out as they had planned, and so we drank together the cup of “poor me” and still I felt no comfort. There were people who beckoned me to join them in living for the moment. That path snuffed out God’s truth and led me into a self-absorbed life. I remember that many on this road were totally unaware that God continued to bless them even when they ignored him. Hanging out with the likes of these offered me a false happiness and only made me feel more pangs of unhappiness when I was alone. My sins continued to plague me and I found it hard to go on. At times I was depressed because Satan told me that my life wasn’t worth much.

Others on this road appeared to be happy.
They lived in the moment and believed with all their heart that life was all about them. There were others who sat along this road and pondered if God existed. They believed that their intelligence was far superior to a belief in God and concluded that if you can’t see him he doesn’t exist. These souls have set themselves up as a god and they believe Satan’s lie that convinces them that within their own strength they will be able to meet all of the challenges of life. They believe that they alone are in control of their life and that is not a position that they want to compromise or give up.

Everyone on this road to destruction lives only for themselves. These are impulsive people who live for moments of gratification rather than a life of hope and peace. The longer they travel this road the more self-absorbed they become. They believe that their success is more important than anything or anyone else. They start pushing others aside to get ahead and forget to hold dear those most precious to them.

I for one became weary with this dead end road and hopeless lifestyle.
I remembered that in days past I had been on a narrower road that was full of hope. Eternity and eternal life was on the horizon. It was on that narrow road that I walked in peace knowing that my physical death was actually the door to real life forever. It was on this road that I knew that nothing was too difficult for God. It was a road where I had experienced that God was always faithful even when I was not.

During this “wake up and stop feeling sorry for your self” call I found myself searching for an exit. To both my surprise and joy the wide road was lined with multiple exits. There was one every few feet! Yes, God always has a plan and provides a way for our escape. I didn’t waste another moment as I quickly ran to the exit marked “Narrow Road.” Without a doubt, this road was narrow and not as well traveled, yet there were many travelers. These travelers were not without baggage and crosses but their faces were smiling and peaceful. The tree lined road provided me with shade from the heat of the day and relief from the pressure and stress of my life. Beautiful flowers were blooming for my enjoyment. The joy of my salvation was restored as I began to take pleasure in walking the narrow road with Jesus.

The travelers that I encounter on this road are God’s people.
We walk together, talking and sharing about our Heavenly Father. We talk about how fortunate we are that even in difficult times God has his hand on our lives and that he continues to draw us to himself so that we can receive his wisdom and comfort. Even when we take a wrong turn, God lovingly draws us back to the narrow road where we belong. God treats each of us as his precious child and lavishly loves us as though we haven’t been away a minute!

It is my experience that the people on this road know that God will use any set back or problem in their life for their good. These folks speak of their many blessings. They know that God is not finished with them yet and that they are a work in progress. The children of God, my friends, all desire to experience progress in their spiritual life as they walk this road with Jesus Christ. They treasure their relationship with Jesus as they take time to stop along the road to read their Bible, pray, praise and worship Jesus. I absolutely love these inspiring, encouraging people!

As I personally walk this road with Jesus I know that I am not in control, and that’s okay with me.
I am comforted to know that the God of creation is in control of my life and the lives of all those I love. I know that even in the worst case scenarios of life God is in control and has a plan. When fear grips my heart, the Holy Spirit comforts me with the knowledge that God will never leave me or forsake me. That is God’s promise to me and I stand firmly on that promise. I gladly give God credit for all that is good in my life. Because I love God I find joy in helping others, I choose to be happy for the success of others. I choose to weep with those who weep. I choose to set aside my selfish will and submit to the perfect will of God. There is no other road on which I would rather travel than this narrow road of life that leads to an amazing relationship with Jesus Christ now. I do not walk this road in perfection but when I take time to glance back over my shoulder I do see progress. I do not take pride in this but totally give God praise because he loves me enough to challenge me to walk closer to him. Gratitude is the word I would choose to express how I feel when I realize that I am not the person I used to be. God has been faithful to help me grow in my faith. It is true, the best is yet to come! At the end of this road I anticipate a joyful life after death that will never end. Some call the road I travel the road of narrow mindedness, but I call it the road of joy both now and forever! It is the road that keeps me safe from destruction!


Are you traveling life’s wide road or the narrow road?

If you are traveling the wide road, how is that working out for you?

If you are traveling life’s narrow road, describe your current mental and emotional state.

If your current mental and emotional state is less than peaceful and joyful, is there a possibility that maybe you have taken a wrong turn?

Do you believe that Christians sometimes leave the narrow road and follow the wide road?

How can Christians avoid a detour?

If you have found yourself on the wide road of life, do you see an exit in sight? If so, take it!


Dear Jesus,

You never said that life would be easy. In fact you said we would have troubles in this world. But you have promised to be with us in all things. You have promised us that if we trust you we will be all right no matter where the narrow road of life takes us. You said a comforter would come to be a very present help to us in our trouble. You have promised that you were going away to prepare for us an eternal home and that you would come again to personally escort us to that place so that we can live with you forever. Jesus, I pray for your forgiveness when I allow fear to grip my heart and when I entertain the sinful behavior of selfishness and pride. I desire that my life will be ordered by you. I pray against the spirit of fear that cancels my trust. Jesus, protect me from Satan’s subtle temptations that would invite me to exit the narrow road and foolishly pursue the wide road of destruction. Father, help me to stay focused on you as I read your Word, walk with you and fellowship with your people. Be with me as I daily open my heart to you in prayer. Jesus I pray for your joy to fill me as I walk with you on the narrow road that ends in a beautiful life that will last for all eternity.

In Your Name I pray. Amen