by Tami Rudkin
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved (John 10:9, NIV).
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).
I stand at the crossroads, looking right, then looking left. Which way should I choose?
In one direction I see the wide gate beckoning me. Tacked on every available inch are alluring advertisements promising wealth, power, and happiness. It appears simple. There doesn’t seem to be a toll, and the road is wide enough to maneuver with ease. This road looks enticing. Along the way there are hordes of people, places, and things that presume to offer all the paraphernalia that make life comfortable, uncomplicated, and appealing.
It must be okay. Look at all the masses of people wandering there. There’s only one thing. Although all appear to be laughing and enjoying themselves, I can’t see beyond the bend. I wonder . . . what happens once they have entered the wide gate and move beyond the initial entry?
The unknown sets off a silent alarm in my mind. I turn to examine my other choice.
The gate is not nearly as large. In fact, it is quite small. The gate has not become a billboard for every whim of society, but simply stands open. One word is branded into the structure: LIFE.
As I stand there pondering the one-word invitation, I realize that the road beyond the gate is also narrow. I can see people beyond the entrance, but not nearly as many. They too wear the expression of happiness. No, perhaps it looks more like contentment. The people there are not dickering and panhandling goods along the tight byway. Instead they are leaning close to one another, sharing each other’s burdens, and conferring in joyous tones about something I can’t detect from here.
I stand at the crossroads. Which way will I go?
Today we live in a world of easy answers. There is a spiritual guru on every corner, TV station, and bookshelf peddling answers to life’s greatest questions. In their opinion, the road to spiritual awareness is wide — extremely wide. They advise us to look within to find our center. They suggest it is there we will find truth. It is there we will find morality. It is there we will find happiness. These proposers of truth tell us to fill our existence with goodness, which, defined by our own self, leads us to “life.”
And of course, they inform us that there is a Higher Power. He/she lives not only in that wildflower on the hillside, in that cloud overhead, or in that clod of dirt beneath your foot, but also within you — if you are tuned in enough to find it. The gate is wide. Everyone is welcome and everything is permissible, as long as it is from your own moral center.
What about the other gate? It is narrow. Without apologies Jesus said, “I am the gate — the small gate.” He also said that no one could find life except by traveling through Him. Now that’s narrow! Jesus on several occasions claimed that He knew God the Father and that He was the only way to Him. It wouldn’t matter how long I meditated on goodness, it couldn’t matter how much ethical correctness I might conjure up in my mind, and it doesn’t matter how I try to find God within myself. Jesus says He is the gate by which I must pass to know God.
The wide gate is tempting. It promises that I can be my own god, directing my own affairs, and living my own conscience.
However, deep within my spirit I am drawn to the narrow gate. I am drawn to the one Man who lived a completely moral life, knows intimately the authentic Higher Power, and always speaks the truth. The narrow gate. There is something comforting about relying on Him to take me to the Father. I can’t get there on my own merit.
Jesus said that many will choose the wide gate, the easy life, the life full of self. Yet He also said that road always leads to personal destruction and ultimately eternal destruction.
I believe Him. Many have proudly traveled through the wide gate, down the wide road. All have found that life without Jesus is meaningless. The wide road is littered with those who have tried to find peace, goodness, and truth within themselves and have realized that self could not fulfill.
Fewer have chosen the narrow path.
But they have found that Jesus gives truthful answers to life’s most relevant questions. They have found that truth is narrow. And that the truth, when entered into, liberates.
I stand at the crossroads. Which way will I choose?
Without reservation, I will choose the narrow gate that simply promises LIFE.
Oh, by the way: The cost of taking this narrow road is clearly understood. I can see the cross down the lane, just before the first bend.
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