For The Gate Is Wide

Thursday, June 18, 2020
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Matthew 7:13-14 – Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (ESV)

Here in Cheltenham, on the edge of town, we have a world-renowned racecourse that holds events. It is a massive area that occasionally becomes a village in its own right. Just before the COVID-19 shutdown in early March, we had one such event, the Cheltenham Festival. Out of nowhere, vans, trucks, tents, pre-fabricated temporary buildings, marquees, and staff arrive to set up their hospitality outlets, businesses, and services.

People come from all over the country and beyond to watch, take part in the delivery, or participate in other ways in support of the success of these events. Tens of thousands of people come to immerse themselves in the excitement and self-satisfaction that accompanies one of these events.

Not being a great fan of the melee, I tend to avoid the trail of buses unloading people all keen to see what there is to see, with the associated paraphernalia and raucous displays designed to attract customers before they go up to the racecourse.

As I was driving in the other direction around the outskirts, I noticed a long line of cars, caravans, and trucks all waiting to be guided in by stewards like a well-oiled machine. The surrounding fields had temporarily been turned to serve as car parks for the day. I made a note to go back home a different way.

Likewise, the main thoroughfares from the town were saturated with people walking up from hotels, hostelries, and the train station, all keen to arrive and enter through the many ticket stiles ready to move them in before the day's events commenced.

As I drove past the streams of people, today's verses about the narrow gate came to mind. The starkness of choice that they, and all of us, have to face took me by surprise. Are we trusting in Jesus for our salvation and following His precepts for our lives, or are we following a different path? Are we unwittingly walking alongside others who are rushing headlong into oblivion?

For those who are old enough to remember, think of the lost boys depicted in Disney's Pinocchio who, too late to get away, became donkeys, changed forever by their choice for indulgence.

So, where are we with God today? How much have we taken His grace and love for granted, and how much have we been lured, seduced in some way, and tempted by all the excitement and paraphernalia to compromise into following the crowd?

Prayer: Lord, we are guilty yet again of looking at the world and being desirous of all the good stuff. Forgive us for not realizing that the good stuff is fake news and insubstantial. You are our Rock and Your gift of life everlasting. Forgive our wandering eye, attracted by money, possessions, ease, and favour. Redirect us back onto the right track with You, to the narrow path, so as to commune with You daily. Purify our hearts once again to let go of all the things that we would take up, but that are not for us or a part of Your eternal plan. May Your light brightly shine in us to highlight the crud of our life's accretions. May Your presence make a difference to our worship and enable us to see Your way for us today. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Rod Marshall <>
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Love the prayer, Rod.

    Thanks, Rod. This is not an easy choice, but a wise one.

    Dear Roderick,
    Thank you for the information.

    Amen Rod. I have often wondered and prayed about this myself as in so many ways our lives, at least on the surface, don’t seem much different than anybody else’s. But l pray that my actions, words, and thoughts are!

    HI Rod,
    Thanks once more for writing this devotional. I think I mentioned the tufted titmouse to you who keep trying to get into one of our windows. He decided on a better use of his time. Thank goodness… although we kind of miss the little fellow.
    It is hard for us in rural Central Texas to realize all the “stuff” that is happening in the world. We all, however, need reminders such as you wrote today. We attended a “safe distance” committee meeting last night. One of the comments was from the wife of a former pastor of a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. It reminded us of the fact that Sunday is no more a “sacred” day and how many, including the children’s sports teams, use Sunday for that kind of entertainment. WELL, we journey on declaring the way of Jesus Christ.
    Thanks again for your devotional.

    I might be better off waiting a few days to respond to your detailed description of your local renowned Cheltenham Festival. I find this verse from the gospel of Matthew to be one of the most sobering scriptures in the whole of God’s word, spoken by Jesus.
    It is not so much temptations of riches that has thrown me off my path. Even good things can be a hindrance, an unnecessary distraction for a period of time, and a blindness as is somewhat the case in my life to the counting down, if you will of the time left to hear and sense God leading me. I had my car ransacked a number of times, and not only did some things get taken, but I had two items left for me that was a broken watch piece and a pair of sunglasses, and I could not help but believe God was trying to get my attention.
    I am not quite making sense with this last item mentioned, but I thank you for your piece, about the many things that have the potential for leading us away from God and His will for our lives.

    Thanks Rod
    Memories of the clamjamfry at Ayr Racecourse on race days when we lived there. Memories too of Cheltenham which we visited in the early days of our marriage 50+ years ago.
    And then you write ‘How much have we taken His grace and love for granted’? Oh yes, and the misunderstandings!
    When we drove north to have our second child baptized in my home church in Edinburgh, the minister pointed out that I should have joined a local congregation. I replied, ‘but they’re C of E!’ To which he replied ‘Lassie, if you have a faith, you will have a church’! That has really stuck with me and in the years since, I have been blessed to grow my faith in church homes in various places. All Presbyterian! But I am much more able to embrace the idea that though the way may be narrow, ‘within my Father’s house there are many mansions.’ Thank God for tolerance and Christ’s teachings!!

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