We recently had the opportunity to visit Australia. If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend the visit. The country is beautiful and the locals are kind. Thank you Australia for the hospitality you showed my husband and I!
As we were leaving Cairns, a coastal town near the Great Barrier Reef, we walked into the terminal to await boarding. Cairns has 22 gates, quite a refreshing change from Atlanta's 207 gates.
As we entered the terminal, there is one thing that I noticed immediately – one very long line. And my first instinct was to “get in line.”
We are all accustomed to lines, aren’t we? As a toddler, mommy says “follow me, sweetie.” In elementary school, we learn to “follow the leader.”
As we get older, we stand in line at the grocery checkout, we stand in line to vote and if you have been to any airport, you will agree that we stand in line for security.
Our life can seem like a journey of lines. Lines have their purpose, they create order out of chaos, certainty out of uncertainty and of course, they can help us get to where we are going (even if seemingly pointless at the moment.)
After about 10 minutes of standing in this very long line, I had to ask myself are we in the right line? The answer presented itself very soon, nope we were in the wrong line. OOPS!
This made me wonder “How often do we find ourselves in the wrong line in life?”
In Matthew 7:13, Jesus said:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road 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.”
Luke shares Jesus’ words like this in Luke 13:24:
“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many I tell you will try to enter and will not be able to.”
Sounds pretty extreme, doesn’t it? The line (or path) we choose will be a life-changer. In our case, the line we were standing in would take us to Brisbane, which would have put quite a damper in our travel plans.
In these two passages, Jesus gives us two choices:
Enter through the wide gate
Enter through the narrow gate.
So what are these gates He speaks of?
WIDE GATE – We live in a world full of options, which lead us to different places, things and opportunities. There may be many different lines leading to these options but I wonder, do they all lead us to the same place eventually?”
Following the crowd (Allowing others to determine your choices.)
Following popular opinion (If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.)
Following the world (Media, yes that means social media too.)
And dare I say it, following self (Trusting your own instinct and knowledge based on past experience.)
Interestingly enough, all of the paths listed above begin by promising life.
Following the crowd promises inclusion.
Following popular opinion promises agreement and even entitlement to some degree.
Following the world promises acceptance, success, riches, reward and happiness.
Following self promises security based on what I know to be true.
When we rely on these paths for fulfillment and happiness, at some point we realize that the promises ring hollow and empty, never completely fulfilled. Oh sure, we may experience inclusion, that is until someone excludes us. We may experience agreement, until someone disagrees with us. We may experience acceptance, until we are rejected. We may experience success, but riches run dry, rewards only last for a day and happiness is fleeting. We may experience security within ourselves based on what we know to be true, but there will come a day when your unmet expectations (or even what you didn't know) will throw you into a hollow whirlwind of defeat and failure when you come to the end of your own personal strength and/or personal knowledge. And what can follow? A wide path of scarred relationships, broken commitments, disappointment, discouragement, emptiness, despair and a myriad of self-help books promising relief from the result of the very things which led us down these paths to begin with.
But wait there is another gate:
NARROW GATE – What did Jesus say? “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to LIFE and only a few will find it.”
Who then do we follow to find ourselves on the narrow path?
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
I know what some of you are thinking: “Well that sounds pretty exclusive.” But, before you click off the page, I would like you to consider this: “If someone invited you to a party and you choose not to attend, are they excluding you?”
Jesus promises in John 10:10:
“The thief comes only to steal kill and destroy, but I (Jesus) have come that they (us) may have life and have it to the full.”
The thief mentioned above is the enemy of our soul. Ephesians 6:12 says that a spiritual battle is brewing:
“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. But against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (paraphrased.)
The thief is real; make no mistake about it. And while we may be tricked into believing that he is a little red devil with horns, the truth is that he comes as everything we ever dreamed. Making empty promises and telling crafty lies to lead us away from the promised life to the full (and the life-giver).
Dear friend, while there is an enemy of our soul, more importantly there is a Savior who has declared victory over this enemy! Jesus offers the narrow gate of salvation to everyone. And contrary to popular belief, the narrow path never wavers. Following Jesus is never boring. His promises never falter. The life to the full He has promised does not involve being judgmental or argumentative. And the truth is that following Jesus doesn’t mean that we cannot enjoy life or the tools that He has blessed us, only that we are not to be tricked into chasing them, subsequently relying on them for our happiness and fulfillment.
Jesus promises us a FULL LIFE, a life full of love through Him and others (1 John 4:19), joy through the laughter and the pain (Psalm 126:5), peace in the challenge (Philippians 4:6-7), the building of our faith to face all trials (James 1:2-4) and hope in all things good (Romans 15:13). When we completely trust in Him, we realize His promises are real and we find strongholds are broken as the healing begins.
But to move from the wide to the narrow path means that we must first believe in and follow Him.
So what does following Jesus look like?
Accept His free gift of salvation and eternal life.
Turn away (repent) from the old paths that lead to destruction.
Turn to and Follow Him.
It’s that simple. And the reality is that perfection is not a pre-requisite nor is it required for the redemption of the promised full life, unlike many other paths we may be tempted to follow. And once the narrow path is chosen, we may choose to wander from the path at times but Jesus never wanders from us.
The promises given on the wide road are empty and fleeting. The promise that Jesus makes is real and withstands the test of time and eternity. The narrow path brings greater freedom than another other and is completely FREE, our price already paid at the Cross by the same One that we have the honor to follow. But let me be clear, this is a choice that we are given, this gift is free to any who believe.
It was a sign that helped us to realize our mistake as we stood in the line to Brisbane. God’s grace was sufficient to allow us to see the sign early enough and redirect us to the correct gate.
And the truth is, God has left signs for us everywhere, even on the wide path. Many signs of God’s goodness, His love and desire to draw us into a relationship aligned with Him. Just as the shepherd yearns for not even one sheep to be lost, our Father is waiting for us to choose Him.
So, what line are you in?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Would you like the life to the full that Jesus promises? Say this prayer with me:
Jesus, thank You for dying for me on the Cross and providing the gift of salvation and eternal life. Please forgive me for my sins. I turn away from the old life, which leads to destruction and turn to follow You, accepting your free gift of grace and mercy.
In Jesus’ Name