Growing up, my family often went on hikes in the local parks. One park was a particular favorite with us as kids. We called it the Park-with-slightly-inclined-hill and used our arm to demonstrate the nearly vertical angle of the hill. We loved to climb the steep, sandy hill. The path up was narrow and quite a challenge to climb.
Once at the top of the hill, the path was still an adventure. It was a single-file trail, twisting and turning through the hilly woods. There were roots and rocks in the path with an occasional fallen tree creating a natural jungle gym.
This favorite trail was unusual compared to the rest of the park, which was fairly flat with wide, paved paths meandering through open areas. This part of the park was not very exciting for a family of energetic youngsters! There was no challenge, no exertion, no ups and downs, no woods.
This park is an example of what Jesus talked about in Matthew 7:13-14. His call to His disciples was to walk on the “narrow road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” I hope you want to be one of those few who choose the tougher trail in your spiritual life (and when hiking!). Jesus calls us to this narrow road that is harder, but in the end much more rewarding.
The other option is the broad “road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” This is the easy path; easy find, easy to follow, easy to fall into. That’s where “everyone” walks.
In many ways, the wide path of life seems much more enticing to us. It doesn’t take much exertion to be like everyone else. It’s what comes naturally to us.
But is that what we’re called to as followers of Christ? No. We are called to keep following Jesus even when it goes against our nature, just like us kids kept scrambling up even though the hill went against gravity. The harder we lean into Christ, the sweeter the fellowship of walking together.
Is the spiritual reward of this narrow path worth the effort? Do we really want to check our thoughts and attitudes to make them obedient to God? Do we want to be careful in what we say or even who we hang out with? Do we want to consider the appropriateness of what we wear and how we behave? It’s so much easier not to do these things, but remember this “easy” path of life leads to destruction.
It was easier to walk on the paved path in the park, but the result was bored, sunburned kids. The rewards of the “slightly inclined hill” were the exhilaration of succeeding, even if it took a couple of tries to get up. When we did make it up, we had the cool peace of the shaded woods. There were still obstacles, but we knew we could conquer them because we had made it up the hill.
There are rewards to walking on God’s narrow path, too. As we trust Him, He proves Himself faithful. The hardest part is starting. But once we start to offer our minds and thoughts to God through faith in Jesus Christ, it becomes easier to continue in that way. We can see Him mold us into who He wants us to be as we seek Him. Our spiritual muscles of prayer, faith, and confession are strengthened as we use them. It might seem as daunting to us as scaling an almost vertical hill, but we can make it when we depend on God to give us the grace. He helps us to climb and rewards us with life in Him.
“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