In Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 7, Jesus continues His Sermon on the Mount and we hear about road and destination choices in life. He makes us aware of our choice of the easy road in life in saying, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
The song “Jesus Loves Me” is one of my earliest remembrances of my relationship with Christ. I was a very young child at Vacation Bible School. Up until then, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were probably my number one and number two buddies. Although Jesus didn’t bring any toys or candy, I had a sense that He was someone who was watching over me. I felt a bit more secure knowing He was there.
As I grew up, my relationship with Jesus remained superficial. He was just somebody out there somewhere who liked me and I took that for granted. My knowledge of the Bible was poor and although I became touched by the story of Jesus’ death upon the cross, it seemed more like a fairy tale to me.
Everything about Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit seemed to me to be at arm’s length. They were my cheerleader’s way up in the stands, but I never got to see them after the games. I knew that together they were powerful, but I didn’t know how to or if I should connect to that power. I never noticed the narrow gate.
As I entered adulthood I continued to overlook the narrow gate. The wide gate and the easy road were so obvious that it never occurred to me that there might be a narrow gate. And why would I have looked for a more difficult way when a wide gate and an easy road were right before me? My Santa Claus and Easter Bunny thinking continued to dominate me. I felt that I was on the right road and that God was out there somewhere looking out for me.
In time things started to go wrong on this easy road that I had entered through the wide gate. Santa and the Bunny were long gone and I didn’t really feel close enough to Jesus and God to ask them for help. I thought that they cared about me, but they were so distant. More bad things happened on the easy road. I began to realize that I couldn’t handle all of these things on my own. Family and friends were helpful, but there was still something missing.
In desperation, I slowed down my pace on the easy road. I stopped now and then and sat on a rock or stump and began to think. I remembered a fork in the road back where I had started my journey. It was a very hard road with a narrow gate that almost denied access to it. It took me a while, but I gradually walked back to that narrow gate to look in. The longer that I looked in, the more I was attracted to that hard road. Nothing else seemed to be working out on the easy road.
I felt closer to God as I started through the narrow gate. I had to work at it to get through the gate for I had become so fat. As I started my journey down the hard road I frequently stopped to have conversations with God and Jesus. Before I knew it I was talking to them as I was walking.
The road is still hard, but now we are walking together holding hands and the Spirit is all around us. Many others are with us, all holding hands as we walk.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extention: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.