“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14

The road leading to life is narrow and found by only a few. I suppose this could make Christianity sound like some goofy, exclusive club with unnecessary barriers to entry. A small gate could be considered hidden. I’ve also heard this explained that, compared to the wide gate and broad, destruction bound road in the previous verse, Christianity just isn’t as attractive or well advertised. I have this glimmer of memory of a picture of two gates. One was huge, glitzy, and definitely designed to get attention. The other was small and rather plain. It wasn’t drawing much of a crowd. One more idea (I think) I’ve heard associated with this verse is that only a few find life because, being narrow, the road is treacherously easy to lose. If it’s not actually lost, you might just fall off of it.

I suppose all of those interpretations have some validity, and I’ll bet there’s a bunch more out there I’ve not even considered. But… “narrow the road.”

“Narrow the road.”

Ever been near a stream on a hot, dusty day? Maybe there’s a little breeze stirring the pine needles and rustling the dried grasses. The stream is babbling happily away. A grasshopper startles and leaps, wings buzzing against the quiet. There’s not much going on. It’s a sleepy afternoon, a dreamy afternoon, a time to be lost in thought, to ponder. A smooth, round stone comes to hand. It’s perfect to roll over one’s fingers, to idly toss in time to a thought. Up and down the stone goes, its texture catching the sunlight, shadows deepening and shifting as it twists in the air, making a soft slapping noise as its caught. It has rhythm.

Up.
Down.
Up.
Down.
Breathing in.
Out.
In.
Out.

“Narrow the road.”

Life slows to a contemplative crawl.

Breathe in. Another toss. “Hmm… ‘narrow the road.” It reminds me, in this deep and quiet place, of this:

“…Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus.” Hebrews 12:1b-2a

Maybe the road being narrow has little to do with leaving people out, a lack of advertising, or a slippery slope. Maybe it’s got more to do with focus and dedication. What do you have room for in your life? What takes up space? What’s keeping your eyes busy? Can you fit that through a small gate and travel with it along a narrow road? I can’t. When my life is too busy, too full, all I hear is noise, and I need space for my life to spread out and let me breathe. I’m hindered. I’ve lost my focus. My eyes aren’t fixed on Jesus at that point, and if I’m moving, it’s probably like a ping pong ball. I’m bouncing between all the clutter in my life.

“Small is the gate…narrow the road” – not everything will fit. Sometimes I just need to let go of things and keep running.