Traveling light is not easy for me. I often over-pack. It is a symptom of my over-planning. But occasionally, I get it right. When I do, the trip is more enjoyable. I can also avoid my husband giving me the “are you kidding me” look, as he loads our car’s trunk with a smile.
My tendency to over-pack is no surprise to Jesus. I brought way too much on my journey of following Him. And yet, in His faithfulness and love, He led my church to journey through 40 Days of Decrease written by Alicia Britt Chole. It is a timely intervention.
Matthew 7:13-14 tells us why,
“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.”
The narrow road mentality is a must in following Christ. However, when other must-haves creep in, they aim to set my sights on a broader street. They often sound like this:
“I must have a more details.”
“I must have pleasant companions and plenty of time for detours.”
“I must have a room with a picturesque view when I arrive at each destination.”
Do you have “must-haves” too? For me, each of these statements is self-speak for “I must have something go my way!”
On my faith journey, however, the amount of details can lessen. Willing and faithful companions may become fewer and timing is divinely determined. As for the view, grace and mercy is all I see.
While the broad path welcomes each one of my whims, all of my preferences can’t squeeze through the narrow gate. Each step on the life-giving path requires a choice made with conviction. But as soon as I hit my stride, I meet struggles requiring my surrender — or in other words my decrease.
Until now, I hadn’t thought of surrender in terms of decrease. But it certainly is. It happens when I relinquish my “must-haves” in order to embrace more of the ways and wonder of God.
I see the wide path’s neon signs in the distance. They flash words like “convenience” and “control.” But the truth shines brighter: The narrow path leads to life. The wide path leads to much less.
The journey to decrease points us to what Chole refers to as “cross-ward.” It focuses us on Christ and it fills us with awe. But it is hard to look cross-ward, when I am looking elsewhere.
Fasting regret helps me to stop looking backwards. Fasting collecting praise reveals how much I look other-wards. The remaining fasts from the study will surely strike fragile chords inwardly.
Two-weeks ago, my post featured a picture of edibles too hard to resist. Now the hardest thing for me to resist is “broad road” behavior. And yet, as I feed from biblical accounts, the disciples’ experiences have a refining effect on me.
I see them panicking in a storm before they see Jesus calm it. (see Luke 8:22-25)
I see them worrying about the menu before He feeds the multitude. (see John 6:1-12)
I see them fleeing from Gethsemane before He willingly lays down His life. (see Matthew 26:47-56)
Panicking, worrying and fleeing; I’ve done each of those well. However, holy hindsight is not just for memory sake; it is for ministry sake. It encourages me to persevere on the narrow path so I can see Jesus, trust Him and show Him to others. This path is unpopular by definition. But I believe it requires an uncommon response to God’s grace.
Regardless of the path you’re currently on, here’s some good news: A narrow path is necessary because it eliminates what narrows our view of God. Everyone is welcome, but only a few find it. I’m praying we’ll discover and delight in staying His course with an abundance of hope in the heart and joy to the soul.
“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14 NIV