Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "A Shelter In The Time Of Storm"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 7:13-14 – 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. (NKJV)
Every day when I take my dog for a walk, I have to choose between two possible areas. The first is a broad field, bordered on one side by tall trees and reeds, and on the other side by the backyards of local homes. We enter the field off one of the main roads in our community.
When I decide to walk my dog in the field, if I let Sparky off his lead, his behaviour is unrestrained. Because he is very sociable, he will immediately run to the backyards of the homes along the field. He wants to meet the residents, and hopefully, their dogs. He doesn't realize that such a choice can lead to big trouble. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." (Proverbs 14:12 NIV)
When I call him, he rarely responds when he is out in the field. Because there is so much space and so many competing smells to investigate, he chooses to do his own thing and becomes selectively deaf. I liken this to a person choosing to walk in what Jesus called the broad way.
The second area is a narrow road, which I call The Trail. This is bordered by thick woods made up of tall trees, flowers, and other various plants. To enter The Trail, we walk through a narrow, half-hidden opening in the tall reeds bordering the field.
On The Trail, I let Sparky off his lead, but things are very different. He is free to saunter along and explore any scent that interests him. If he becomes uneasy for any reason, possibly from some strange smell or noise, he immediately runs over to me where he knows that he is safe. If he wanders too far away, I call him, and he quickly comes running. Then, I immediately reward him for his obedience, either by a scratch on the head and the words, "Good boy!" or with a small treat. He often walks nearby and continually looks over to check on my whereabouts.
I choose for my dog, but people eventually have to make a choice for their own lives, whether to follow the broad way or the narrow way, spiritually speaking. Jesus surely intended that entering the narrow gate means accepting salvation in Him. However, in my own experience, I had received Christ as my Saviour, but due to lack of teaching, I got into a lot of worldly stuff, which I later came to think of as being on the broad way. If our need to be in control is very strong, we will often choose the broad way, thinking that this unrestricted path will best satisfy our desires. And that means being accountable to no one, including God, so we frequently do not respond when He tries to get our attention. The result of this disobedience is loss of blessings, guidance, and rewards, as well as unforeseen danger.
Walking along The Trail reminds me of what happens when we commit our lives to Jesus and we choose to walk in the narrow way. We listen for His voice and quickly respond when He speaks to us. Out of our obedience come His pleasure and our blessings and rewards. We also feel safe in the assurance of His presence, and when we are uncertain, we turn to Him for answers.
For each person, there is this choice. Have you made your choice, my dear reader? Will it be the broad way or the narrow way?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You that You have given the gift of choice to all of Your children. Sad to say, there are so many voices continually competing for our attention that we sometimes get off the track and make the wrong choice. All too often, our own desires get in the way, and the enemy is very quick to reinforce the attractions of the broad way. We need Your gift of discernment to recognize the traps that he sets up for us. Help us to keep our ears open for Your voice, and give us the wisdom and strength to obey. We ask for these gifts in Jesus' name. Amen.