The Narrow Gate Is Worth the Cost of Admission


Metal gate entrance way between two large dark stone walls

I took a few major road trips with family this year which included visits to 21 different National Parks in 8 different states. That’s a lot of nature and far too many miles. We spotted a variety of wildlife: grizzly and black bears, moose, elk, a fox, bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorns, deer, prairie dogs, jack rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and scores of flying animals, including, an owl, turkey vultures, quail, and even a bat.

We had our share of adventures, too! We hung from cables to hike a rock slab mountain. We navigated snow cover in search of marked trails. And, possibly the most rewarding, we began a hike in the rain to see one of the most photographed natural arches in the world. And, on a typical day, there are tens and sometimes hundreds of people surrounding the arch, but we managed to get sun-shiny pictures without anyone else in the frame, and some with no humans at all!


Large, natural rock arch against a blue sky with soft, brush stroke clouds


But that hike to the arch was not for the faint of heart, and some of the other trails and trail heads were anything but inviting, but we hiked them because we knew we were in for a treat. Those trails led us to some of God’s studios where He displays his artistry.


We discovered that less appealing hikes are worth the price of admission.


Metal gate entrance way between two slanted stone walls
I consider some trail heads to be “narrow gates.” Narrow gates might turn many of us the other direction, but often the road less traveled is a road to unimaginable blessings. This is true of the narrow gate Jesus described during His well-known Sermon on the Mount.

“Enter through the narrow gate.
For wide is the gate and broad is
the road that leads to destruction,
and many enter through it.
But small is the gate and narrow
the road that leads to life,
and only a few find it.
Matthew 7:13-14




The narrow gate leads to life!

But only a few find it.



Path and creek beside large slanted stone wall with tree in the backgroundHow do we find the narrow gate when it’s so easy to just go with the flow? Well, it's right here in plain sight! Many even know it by name:


Jesus

   
But it’s the road less traveled for a reason. The broad gate is more appealing. It's less confusing. No one will make fun of us or wonder what we’re doing. And it's hard to give up our Sunday mornings! Really hard.



But let me tell you about the road less traveled…




The number 1 with colorful, spiraled canyon walls in the background
The road may not seem appealing, but it is rich with hidden treasures. Following Jesus through the narrow gate is not the norm. Sometimes we Christians are called freaks because our values, choices, and activities are different. Well, that’s true. Not the freak part, but we do look at life differently, and, as a result, we operate on a different plain. But here’s what we have as a result:


Long empty tunnel through golden rock with back of man at the far end
·       The absolute promise of eternal life in Heaven
·       Companionship and help from the God of the universe
·       Joy on demand
·       Assurance and strength throughout all loss, trauma, and adversity
·       Friendship and partnership with fellow Christians
·       The ability to see the bigger, spiritual picture in every situation
·       Wisdom equal to that of King Solomon
·       Open ears to hear God when we read His Word, through prayer, and from our internal teacher and advocate, the Holy Spirit


And more, every day, to the fullest of potential.


The number 2 with colorful, spiraled canyon walls in the background
Hollow tree trunk with man in the center about to jump outIt doesn’t matter who we are or what we’ve done. Everyone can enter the gate and walk the path. Everyone is welcome.


Jesus already knows us and yet He cares about our every detail. I learned something new about my wife this summer. She likes trunks, stumps, and rocks. On our hikes, she admired countless trunks, stumps, and rocks. We must have over 100 pictures of family members…with trunks, stumps, and rocks. Why so many? Because each one is different. Each is special, and walking around them offers even more special details. Jesus walks with us and knows us. He cares deeply for us and no detail is lost from His eyes, not because He wants to point a finger, but because He wants to love us – every part of us.

The number 3 with colorful, spiraled canyon walls in the background
When we climb the mountain, there’s no muttering, “I think I can.” Difficult trails tend to be long and steep. I often relapse into childhood boredom: “Are we there yet?” The destination is beautiful and all, but the journey is exhausting. Not so with the narrow gate. Instead, we get relief. Our heavy burdens are suddenly much lighter because Jesus bears the weight. We only need to step onto the path.

Our greatest weight is the penalty of our sinfulness. Jesus paid the price to satisfy God’s perfect standard. He came to earth with love and forgiveness, and offers His open arms.


This is how to step through the narrow gate and into God’s loving and forgiving arms:


Underneath a metal stair ladder looking up to the top of the ladder at a cave opening

1.  Admit that you are a sinner (Romans 3:32).


2.  Understand that your sin, and even sinfulness, falls short of God’s standard, and is punishable by death (Romans 6:23).

3.  Believe that Jesus paid the penalty for your sins by dying on a criminal’s cross as a perfect and sinless man (Romans 5:8).

4.  Believe that Jesus rose from His grave and defeated death (John 11:25).

5.  Acknowledge Jesus as Lord of all and Lord of your life (Romans 14:8-9).



For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.
John 3:16-17


That’s it! It’s only a matter of faith. If you agree with the 5 steps, say it out loud. Say it to God (Romans 10:9-10). You have eternal life – a gift of His grace. Read Ephesians 2:1-9 for a good explanation of your new life.


If you walk the above steps, the logical follow up is to continue walking the path. Stay on the narrow path. It is decorated with green pastures, vibrant rivers, and lush meadows (John 10:9-10).


Looking through rock doorway. Poem written on picture called Enter: Through the narrow gate is truth and life. Through the narrow gate is hope renewed. Come with me and see the way and the light. Come with me and see the God who is good.


Let’s walk the road less traveled together. Enter the narrow gate. Climb the mountain. Jesus is calling.

Jesus answered [Doubting Thomas],
“I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.
John 14:6-7



I close with a song. Take time to listen. Jesus is calling.


Come to the Altar (Elevation Worship, 2016)


Beautiful crystal blue lake with lush brush in the foreground and mountainous edge of the lake on the horizon



If you want to know more about God’s love and how to have a relationship with Him, please email me at authordlv@att.net. You may also want to read more about God's gift of salvation here.

Read more blog posts here.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Comments

  1. Amen. Enter His gates with thanksgiving. Wonderful message.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Melissa. So much to be thankful for when we come to Him.

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  2. I love the narrow gate analogies. For many reading these blogs, staying on the path is where we are. I often think of Ephesians 2:10. We have works that God has planned for us. If we begin to serve Him, the path is so much clearer and easier to stay on because the works are more meaningful than anything I did before I was a Christian.

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    1. Yes. God not only gave us life, He gave us purpose. Specific purpose. May we live accordingly.

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  3. The narrow way is difficult, my friend. I love the point you make about it being filled with treasure unimaginable.

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    1. Yes, Candice. I think many people turn away from God's path because another path, any other path, is more inviting without so many sacrifices. But they fail to realize how truly inviting God's path is, and how blessed it is to live a life of sacrifice.

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  4. Wow, what gorgeous photos and fun adventures! Isn't funny how much we care what other people think as we travel through the narrow gate and road less traveled? My prayer is that I will look at those eternal rewards and know the price is worth it. Not just for the reward itself, but because God is worth it!

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    1. Thanks, Emily. We did have some adventures and memorable times. Yes, God is worth it. He has done so much for us, so at some point along the path many respond to Him with humble, unworthy gratitude and sacrifice.

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  5. Wow, Stephen! This is a powerful post! Love all the photos you shared from your trips. Such a great analogy to how the less-inviting hikes held the greatest treats for you and your family. And this line is pretty amazing, "...often the road less traveled is a road to unimaginable blessings." Amen, brother. Thank you for this reminder to all believers about the benefits of the narrow gate to Jesus and for sharing the gospel!

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    1. Glad it was powerful to you, Karen. I hope the gospel can touch the hearts of readers who do not know Jesus. There truly are unimaginable blessings, many that we may never even recognize! God gives us life and life abundant. Thank you for your commitment to the gospel.

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  6. This is so powerful, and I LOVED the photos. Our family has really come to love hiking, and I agree that the narrow, more difficult paths have the greatest payoff. What a wonderful analogy when we apply this same thought to following Jesus and our eternal reward in heaven! Thank you!!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post and photos, Jessica. Hiking really does have a good payoff sometimes, especially when the water presence is high. But we should read the recommendations because some trails don't really amount to much. Likewise, we can't just follow any path in a spiritual sense. Only one leads to life, so I pray that people will find Jesus who is the gate to true eternal rewards. I pray that God's gospel is clear in readers' hearts.

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  7. Inspiring message and stunning photos!

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    1. Thank you, Ava. I'm glad out was meaningful for you. May we recognize His blessings as we negotiate His path, and may we see others join us for the hike.

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  8. I love this post because I love traveling the road less traveled to see God’s hidden masterpieces. I try to follow Christ on the narrow path too but stumble along the way. At least God is there to pick me up. Beautiful and how wonderful to make such great memories with the family.

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    1. Yes, I remember you also took a lot of road trips this year. Lots of masterpieces in plain sight, many hidden behind behind gates and trails, and I'm sure some most people would never see. I have also had my share of stumbling. One of my most memorable hikes was from decades ago when I hiked to the top of Half Dome (Yosemite). It was a backpacking, overnight trip so I carried an extra load. It didn't take long for my calves to cramp up, then my thighs. And every time I stretched one muscle, counter muscles would cramp, so I couldn't even get a good stretch! I was a pitiful mess. But somehow I made it to the base of the Dome where we set up camp. While others went on to the top, a few others and I decided to just continue in the morning. Then a stranger gave me a banana. The potassium was like rocket fuel and I led the rest of my group up to the top in record speed. It was the most physically challenging thing I'd ever done. But what a reward. God delivers and God blesses, despite our stumbling. (Hmm... Maybe I'll write about this someday.)

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  9. Glad you got to take such a fabulous trip. Great job tying it to these beautiful principles. Love the images too! God bless!

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    1. Thank you, Nancy. I'm so glad God gives us special treats along our often difficult paths.

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  10. Beautiful spiritual analogy from a beautiful journey! Wow, I loved this, Stephen! I appreciate the deep scripture connections you made through the experiences of difficult hikes that allow for amazing views. We took one trip this summer to Colorado and went on a hike that was supposed to be "easy". It was extremely difficult, but when we reached the summit, the view was beyond breathtaking. The whole family agreed, we were glad we persevered, but the road was tough. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and deep faith.

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    1. Hi Melissa. An "easy" hike that is suddenly difficult makes you wonder, doesn't it? I'm glad you were able to enjoy the view at the end. Sometimes our difficult trails lead to nowhere, or so it seems. One of our hikes was supposed to be a loop but the 2 looping options were both closed, so we had to backtrack in the heat for maybe 1.5 miles - same viewpoints, all uphill. I think we encounter situations like this in life as well, but even then God sustains and delivers and praise goes to Him. That's how it is when our eternal hope rests on His promises. We don't get that if we take the broad gate. God is good and I hope many more will join us on His path.

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  11. Spectacular photos. I love the journey motif for our walk with God, but to physically travel, hike, and climb as the Lord speaks is living the lessons. Thanks for sharing your family vacation with us. Jesus was a man on the move, as it sounds like you are also.

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    1. Thank you, Dottie. This was an abnormal year of National Parks exploration and it offered a different vantage point and perspective. God is a masterful Creator and it is hard to understand how people might believe it all happened by chance. The truth is hidden. We are steered away from it. But the narrow gate leads to understanding. Oh, that many will walk through the narrow gate.

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