Tag Archive: endurance

Narrow the Road

“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.

Breathing in.

“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.

Back Pain – Blech

Last week was tough. A year and a half ago, near enough, I got injured at work. The patient didn’t mean to hurt me. He had been seriously shorted sleep, which does bad things for a person’s cognitive capacity. I think he mistook me for a piece of furniture. He tugged and pulled and leaned on me, which gave me a nice case of lumbar strain or something. I’ve spend so much time at doctor (MD) and physical therapy (PT) appointments since.

At this point, it looks like I’ve probably plateaued. PT absolutely helped. I am in less pain, and I’m stronger than I was about a year ago. I’m better, for sure, but I’m not perfect, and it doesn’t really look like I’m going to be, darn it. My MD thinks that the pain I’ve got is probably about where I’m going to live, and that it will occasionally flare and act crankier than that baseline.

I think my MD is probably right, based on my last round of PT. I saw some improvement, but it didn’t seem to help as much as it did before, and last week was definitely a flare. My back acted quite the brat and pulled obnoxious stunts like waking me up almost every night. I was too tired to think straight. That would be why there was no post last week. I wasn’t that organized. 😛

While I’m grateful for how much my back has improved (it’s crazy to think how much trouble it was causing me at first), I’d be lying if I said I was not disappointed. In fact, I could probably even claim to feel a bit depressed over it. Chronic pain is NOT fun. Obviously, it hurts. It causes fatigue thanks to sleepless nights. I have to spend time and energy managing it, and the super annoying thing about that is oftentimes I have no idea what causes flares of pain. The pain doesn’t necessarily correlate well with whatever it is I’ve been doing. For instance, this past week I spent some time out digging up blackberry roots and tossing them over a fence to a burn pile. You’d think that my back would hate that, but, no, no, seemed fine. I could tell I’d exercised, but had no spasm flares. The flare from the previous week was (probably, I think) from driving my mom’s van to pick her up at the airport. There’s something about those seats. I don’t really know that, though. It’s just my best guess. That random, unpredictable nature bothers me. It sucks to hurt and not know what caused it.

So in all of this, what am I to do? Where’s God? Where’s my faith? What does growth and trust look like here? I’m not quite sure. I’ve never been quite exactly *here* before. Some things don’t change – God is still good, I’m still loved, and all that – but a new situation has a tendency to freshen hard questions, such as, “Wow, this is hard! I don’t like it, God. Are You sure You still love me?” Besides that, my goals are shifting. I have been focused on improvement. Now I need to look at endurance. That’s harder for me. I like to fix things and make them better. I’m pretty good at fixing things, too, and I’m pretty happy with fixing things. Enduring? Waiting? Not so much, not really my favorite, thanks, anyway. But… that’s what I’ve got – a disappointment, something hard, and God still loves me. His grace is still supposed to be sufficient. It’s also changed how I feel about myself. I feel older, less resilient, like I’ve aged. That’s not necessarily an easy thing to handle.

So, yeah, what am I to do? Wait, pray, take the tricky and heavy questions to God and see what He’s got to say. That’s one of the things that doesn’t change. Questions, hard questions about life and identity that can gnaw guts out if held, should always go to God. He always provides. Guess if I wait around, I’ll get to see how.