Friday dates with Jesus might be my new favorite and this place has become a place of refuge with Him. When a lot of my circumstances seem to be in a state of transition, this place with Him has been my constant the last few weeks. Walking yesterday I came across this beautiful image of two paths, that I somehow have missed the many times I’ve walked by…ohhhhh. Point proven.
God led me into Matthew 7 and Luke 9.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14.
That word for hard is from the Greek word thlibo which means to press (as grapes, a compressed way, or to trouble, afflict, distress). As soon as I see it means to press, I think of the garden of Gethsemane which means the winepress of oils. Now that is a topic all in itself. Jesus was pressed to the extreme after talking with His dad here. And what was the result? THE most beautiful love story of all time. When we think about the pressure put on something to squeeze the oil out of it you see a beautiful picture of what we are called into as Christians. Life may not always look how we thought, or feel how we thought. Sometimes it will be better than we could ever imagine and other times hurt worse than we care to be conscious through. But that isn’t the point. The point is what do you produce from whatever it is life sends your way? The point is Jesus didn’t have to die, but he chose to because he loves us. The same is true for us. When we encounter tough situations we can endure through them because of His promises for eternity. But we have a choice to make, and our love means nothing without the freedom to choose it.
Right before this passage in Matthew the Bible says ask and it will be given to you. It describes how parents want to give their children good things and so how much more would He want to give you everything you desire in this life. God wants to give you everything, He doesn’t want you to have to endure hard things, He doesn’t want suffering. He wants to give us the desires of our hearts (Psalms 37:7) Are we willing to give up the picture we paint of how it looks? I need to be willing to give up my plans for my life in exchange to partake in the greatest adventure we could ever imagine, because it’s actually not my life at all.
Then He shows me Luke 9: 57-62. God gives us three examples here of people who said they wanted to follow Him. His response isn’t just a great lets go. Jesus responds by saying this isn’t the easy way. It can be uncertain at times. I need you to understand that this way you need to “hate” everything else in comparison to how much you love Me. Family, Friends, Job, Spouse, Children, because in comparison you love Me that much, because that’s what it’s going to take to stand firm in this. He wants you to have good things and not everyone of us is called to give up everything, but we might be. And in the moments of hard callings where is your heart? Because proverbs 4:23 says, “above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Back in Luke 9 I love the last verse. “Jesus said to him, “no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Maybe this sounds harsh, but what God is saying is look at Me. Look to Me. Don’t take your eyes off me and I will make your paths straight. Like a man plowing a field looks to something in the distance to make straight lines for his crops. I just see Him holding my chin in His hand, a tear rolling down my cheek. A gentle, loving father. It’s hard, it might hurt right now, but it’s worth it.