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
Life is about decisions, and decisions have consequences. Abraham decided to go upstream by obeying God. He left his home and a comfortable, familiar existence to go to a new and unfamiliar land, that God would show him, and God blessed him (Genesis 12:4). Moses decided to obey God, even though he was not very confident about his abilities to lead the children of Israel (Exodus 3). Jesus made the ultimate decision when he came to earth in the form of man, doing God’s bidding even unto death on the cross (Philippians 2:8). These and many others chose the narrow gate that leads to life.
But then there’s Judas, who floated downstream when he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). How about the rich young ruler who went away sad, when Jesus asked him to sell everything and give it to the poor and then follow Jesus (Matthew 19:21-22). Then think about Lot’s wife who looked back and turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26). These characters and others who chose the wide path, floated downstream never to be heard of again.
Floating upstream is hard and painful work. Floating upstream takes strength of character, commitment, heart and trust. I watched the American women’s rowing team at the Rio Olympics recently and noticed these qualities in the women. They chose a rhythm and a path and they stuck to it; trusting in the rhythm and in each other. I saw how much strength they exerted into each stroke and I saw the sweat pour down their faces and backs. They did not allow the early lead team to distract them, nor did they allow the cheering of the crowds to influence them, they had one thing in mind, to stay the course and row for the gold medal. Their eyes and hearts were fixed on the prize and eventually they won the race!
Life is about choices. Which gate are you choosing? Broad is the gate that is filled with complacency, accommodation, opposition, and withdrawal from the responsibilities of our Christian faith. God’s word encourages you, me, all of us to choose the narrow gate. The narrow gate is difficult and requires reliance and trust in the Holy Spirit. It requires walking by faith. His word exhorts us to run this race with our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and not to be swayed by the massive crowds floating downstream carried by the influence of this secular world. We already know what happens to those who float downstream, so choose the narrow gate; choose the difficult gate that runs counter to this secular current. Choose the gate that takes effort and perseverance while fixing your eyes on the prize. Do not be deterred or distracted by those who succeed in their wicked ways (Psalm 37:7). Whatever decisions you have to make this day, choose life because God in Christ has already chosen you and he says, if you remain in him as he remains in you, you've already won the race (John 15:4).
Loving and Gracious God, thank you for showing me the way of life through the choices you made. Give me the strength to choose the narrow gate, to swim against the current of this secular world and to remember that you are always with me by the power of your Holy Spirit who lives in me. I commit to you my choices today, may they bring glory and honor to you alone. Thank you for choosing me. In Jesus’ Holy name I pray, Amen!