I like to say that I learned to drive in southern California in the LA area and perfected my driving skills in the Chicagoland area. Which isn’t something I really should brag about. Both driving styles scare the snot out of people in South Dakota and in the greater Grand Rapids area. Weaving isn’t the smartest thing. Neither is pushing your way into traffic. Or other stuff I’m not going to mention here that I had to learn how to do while driving in those two large metropolitan areas.
Last night I took the three or so hour drive from my place in the greater Grand Rapids area and headed to the north side of Chicago to do my DMin work for the week (Doctor of Ministry). It started off nice in west Michigan where we have two lanes on each side, one for driving and one for passing. Eventually the 196 merged into the I-94 and there soon became three lanes. All was fine still as I passed through Niles. People were all around good drivers, though some seemed to be in too much of a hurry. There was a bunch of construction too (but I think that’s for another post). Even when I entered Indiana things went well driving. It was smooth, easy, and we all flowed together.
And then it happened.
About 10 or so miles from the Illinois/Indiana border all things are tossed into the wind. The lanes become more numerous to count. Though the speed limit says 55 MPH, people pass you like you’re standing still when you yourself are driving at least 70 just to stay alive. If you don’t know where you’re going, what exit to take, where to merge, you can get forced into the large, broad road of white knuckled steering wheel holding. That’s when you’re forced onto the broad path.
Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad its road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Matthew 7:13
As I was driving last night, I realized just how easy it can be to get caught up in the broad road, going through the broad gate onto the broad path. There are times where you may not even know you’re going on it unless you know what you’re looking for. It may not seem like it at first, but then, soon, things get rushing around you, things get fast paced, people get hurried, life gets more frantic and you don’t realize you missed the exit for the narrow gate, the narrow path.
Jesus goes on to say
“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14
Driving through downtown Chicago last night, I was transfixed by how many signs there were and how confusing they can be to those who’ve never driven down the Bishop-Ford. The road is so wide and broad and filled with so many cars going at different speeds, all with an agenda and destination they need to be at (especially taxis…dude, they drive like they own the road). If you don’t know what’s going on, you might find yourself on Lakeshore Drive instead of the express way. Or worse yet, at Wrigley Field.
When I’m driving in Chicago and the traffic’s getting bad or even backed up or if I get lost, I tend to give my father-in-law a call. He grew up in the Chicago area. He has the whole Google street view map in his mind. He knows the narrow, small roads to take to get to the right destination. When things get hectic, backed up, or just down right weird on the interstates and tollways, he knows how to navigate around them all.
That’s how it is in life. We have the choice, we can either get caught up in the rigmarole of the busy roads, not always realizing we’re on the wrong road, the wrong path, going the wrong direction because traffic is pushing us that way, or we can choose to take the smaller road, the narrow gate. Few find it. But it’s there.
Just like the Bishop-Ford, just like the I-94 and the 196, there are many times you can exit off the large, broad road and leave.
But do we?
You need to. The narrow gate and the narrow road is more treacherous. You may not think it’s taking you where you need to go fast enough, or that you might get lost (I get lost a lot, like one time in a town of 50…long story). But take the narrow gate. Take the narrow road. Not everyone is going that way. And that is fine. Some might even mock you or make fun or you or even tell you how you’re doing it all wrong. That’s fine. Take time down the narrow path, go through the narrow gate.
Down the narrow gate is where life is truly at. Choose to go down the path least walked, through the gate that’s hard to find, and when you do, amazing things will happen, the journey will be hard, but the view is worth it (and people don’t zoom by you like you’re standing still when you yourself are going like 70).