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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