(NOTICE AND DISCOVER #2)
Monday, July 19
I actually went past this sign as I walked along in the morning sunshine, but further down the road, I was suddenly nudged to take a photo of these words. Turning back, I snapped the picture – and was surprised by a flood of enthusiasm and inspiration! I then knew that this is the theme I was to notice this week. And each day, I found messages that enhanced or deepened this narrow road idea. I regard these as small miracles of God, discovered only because I was prompted to notice.
My initial thoughts went to these familiar words of Jesus in the book of Matthew:
Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way leading to destruction and many are the ones entering through it. How narrow (is) the gate and constricted the road leading to life and few are the ones finding it. (Matthew 7:13-14, from the Interlinear Translation from Greek to English)
There was a time when I interpreted these words as an instruction to follow all of the strict rules found in the Bible in order to get into heaven. If I strayed from the narrow road, I would end up in hell! But the more I know and love about Jesus, the more I see this narrow road as the way of truth, of kingdom living here and now. Our road is not made narrow by boundary walls of rules and stipulations, but by keeping our focus on Jesus and allowing him to lead the way.
Jesus comes to free us, to give us abundant life in him, to open us to love and goodness. Instead of walking in fear, we can hold his hand in childlike trust as we follow this narrow road. The road is not a difficult one of self-striving, but an invitation to greater things, to joyful and abundant life. We can stop worrying about achieving perfect righteousness as we trust the Spirit to work within us.
A few days later, @chasinggraceinsta posted a beautiful photo on Instagram with the caption, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.”
Amen, and thank you, God. The road may be narrow – but may our trust be expansive.
Finally, this idea was extended further by yet another small God-moment. Jim read our next devotional reading from We Make the Road by Walking called, “A New Path to Aliveness,” (wow! 🙂 ). Brian McLaren writes about Jesus’s message in Matthew 5:17-48:
Jesus employs his “you have heard it said… but I say…” pattern once more, perhaps the most radical example of all. Tradition always requires love and responsibility toward friends and neighbors, people we like, people like us, people “of our kind.” That is a big step beyond utter selfishness and narcissism. But Jesus says the road of tradition was never meant to end there. Love should be extended farther than before, to outsiders as well as insiders, to “them” as well as “us,” even to our enemies. We may not have walked the road that far yet, but that is God’s intent for us… God is out ahead of us, calling us forward – not to stay where tradition has brought us so far, and not to defy tradition reactively, but to fulfill the highest and best intent of tradition, to make the road by walking forward together.1
Our narrow road is the road of love. Following Jesus on that narrow road, we keep walking further into his love, and further into our love for one another. We seek ways to love and serve others well, to be Christ for them in our words and actions. Thanks to Jesus, what a beautiful road this narrow road can be! It truly is the road “leading to life.”
What are the invitations this week? How might I follow Christ more closely, trust him more fully, love him more deeply? Can I learn to look to God for my truth rather than comparing myself to the standards and expectations of the world? Where might I narrow my focus in order to expand – is this an extension of last week, am I being called to live more simply, to see God’s glory in the everyday? What things do I perceive as limits that keep me from expanding in Christ? How might I expand in love?
Are these questions yours, too? Or have you noticed something else this week? What are you discovering in your noticing?
My prayers for you continue.
1McLaren, Brian. We Make the Road by Walking. Jericho Books, 2014.
Photo by Karen, Hurricane, WV