A Narrow Gate

Just listened to a college student talk about her struggle with what she calls “dwindling hope.” Her insights were provocative, and her vulnerability was inspiring.

When she began talking about her hope problem, I guessed that it must have stemmed from some tragedy—a death, a divorce, heartache. Losing sight of the light is common in great darkness. But she surprised me when she asked us to turn to Matthew 7 verse 13:

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”

Recently a friend of hers had walked away from God, and for the first time she was struck by the weight of what Jesus is saying. Many people, most people, are going to be destroyed.

I can understand her struggle to maintain hope.

I remember vividly driving down 53 in Huntsville, Alabama thinking about this very thing. I’d been counting church buildings on my way to work and thinking about how many people in Huntsville went to church. A lot. But still not most. And that got me to wondering how many of the people who do go to church also live like the church—again, not most. And then I started thinking about how much more religious Huntsville was than Tampa Bay where I grew up. And then I thought about places like Iraq and how few of those people believed in Jesus. And all of a sudden I started bawling. Because the world, my world, was dying, and I felt helpless to save it.

That moment burdened me. I was 23, and never before had I contemplated the implications of a “narrow way.” I think about it a lot now, and I’m motivated by it. I’ve realized that I’m not exactly helpless when it comes to saving the world and I’ve begun to find peace in knowing that it’s not my fault when people choose the wide road. It’s the wide road; people choosing it is what makes it wide.

I’m glad though that Matthew 7:13 broke my heart, and I’m glad it broke my friend’s, too. I can’t imagine Jesus expecting any other reaction.