The Narrow Way
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt 7 13-14)
If you are reading this you have probably found the ‘narrow gate that leads to life’ already: you have given your life to Jesus, and are sure of your place in Heaven. I was thinking about this scripture this morning, and saw that there is another angle that we can view it from as well. And just to make it clear – I mean “as well”, not instead. Our lives are often like going on holiday on a busy road. We drive along in our vehicles, loaded with all the stuff that we need for our journey, concentrating on the road signs, the satnav, trying to ignore the children fighting in the back and at the same time trying to at least give some attention to what our spouse is telling us about the in-laws, wondering what the speed limit is on this stretch, hoping there’s a fuel station soon, gagging for a coffee, and all the while hoping you’ll arrive in time to check in and have dinner at a civilised hour. A lot of input; a lot of preoccupations. And maybe for you the Kingdom of Heaven is like that holiday: you know you’re headed there, but right now you’ve got to drive.
You know also that somewhere along here there is supposed to be a beautiful little nature reserve that you’ve always wanted to check out, but have never really had – or at least taken – the time to visit. You’re going up a hill into a bend on the dual carriageway. “Will you two at the back please stop arguing about whose turn it is on the ipad!” And then there it is on the left, just after the bend as you drive past at 60mph: a brown sign pointing down a little lane, saying “Nature reserve: two miles.” And it’s gone; you’ve missed it, the sign disappears from your rear view mirror, and you can’t turn round because of the traffic.
The second angle on the narrow gate is this: our lives can be so full of input and preoccupations, and we can be hurtling along so quickly and hemmed in by the other vehicles hurtling along with us, that the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit’s voice – the input of the Word of God – is like that sign to the nature reserve: we know it exists and we know it leads to a place of peace, and suddenly we are aware of it in a brief moment of here and now; and then it’s gone, soon dissolving into the blur of the past, and you can’t stop and turn round because of the traffic.
So here’s the good news: in case you haven’t noticed, the traffic has practically stopped. We can take that lane. We can find it anywhere, because we have a choice of seeing these coronavirus days either the world’s way, which is lockdown; or the Kingdom way, which is lock-in, locked in with God (acknowledgements to Andrew Baker, whom some of you know, for this phrasing). God has been speaking to many people about new paths. So while the government has just announced an extension of “lock-down”, let’s be encouraged to see this as an extension of “lock-in.” Let’s make sure we don’t miss what God is saying to us as individuals and as churches, and make sure we take the new paths that are being opened to us in this season. If we wait until we are too far down the road, we will have missed them. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand; it’s not the destination.