“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Mt. 7:14)
A few days ago, was one of those winter days that is very springlike – unseasonably warm, and tremendously windy (a southerly wind, with gusts to 50mph).
While outside, I saw a flock of Canada geese flying overhead. What caught my attention was one particular goose that was really struggling to make any headway against the beating wind. He (or she, it is so hard to tell!) would make it a short distance forward, and then be driven unmercifully sideways… or backward. You could almost see the consternation in his actions and demeanor.
My first thought was: “Why in the world would these geese try to fly south on such a difficult day for flying. Why not just hunker down on some lake somewhere and wait for better flying conditions. After all, that would be the smart thing to do.”
But then, the life-lesson hit me. That flock of geese (and especially the struggling one) had a goal to attain. They had a purpose to occupy their time and their energies – and nothing was going to deter them from their task at hand. They were going to get south – and they didn’t care whether I thought their actions were wise, or not!
I draw a couple of things from this…
One) We tend to want our lives to be nothing but easy (I confess I am particular bad at this). We want comfort, convenience, and ease – and we don’t particularly care to struggle with anything, even if it brings something positive in the process. This can so easily translate to our spiritual life. We shun resistance. We resist ridicule. We want everyone to like us. We want everything to come our way, with as little effort as possible. We want all the rewards – without paying the price. Jesus described this road as the one that everyone wants to travel – but it leads nowhere special.
Two) To get anywhere that is really meaningful in life, we must be willing to go against the grain, swim against the flow – do what is hard to do. The challenge, in itself, does something for us that all our ease and comfort cannot. Not only does it build character within us, it teaches us that we can always do far more than we think we can. Jesus told us plainly the “the way is hard that leads to life.” And that only “a few” are really willing to commit themselves to the task at hand.
Standing out from the crowd is hard for us – but, as Christians, it is necessary. We are called to something that is beyond us – we are called to represent the Living God. We are called to be Jesus to our little corner of the world. That is not going to be easy. But Jesus promises us that it is going to be extremely meaningful, and rewarding.
Like that goose, we have somewhere to go – and everything around us may prove resistant to our task. But if we will embrace the difficulty, and keep our eyes on the prize, we will find that everything was worth every ounce of our time and effort.
Prayer focus: God, help me to be aware of the broad roads in life – and give me a resolute passion to walk through the narrow gate and walk the hard way, consistently.