Choose The Gateway of Life or Death.

CHAPTER 4
Rock-Solid Living In A Quicksand World

Choose Wisely

Gateways: Life or Death…Choose Life

Matthew 7:13–14
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.
—Jesus

Life is full of choices. Some are very simple choices: What time should I get up in the morning? What kind of food should I eat? Do I want a healthy meal, or do I want fast food? Should I exercise or not exercise? What kind of clothes do I want to wear when I go out today? Do I need to worry about the weather?

Then there are simple choices we make that can have fairly significant consequences; for example, perhaps I choose to drive too rapidly down a rain-slicked road. Or I can choose to take out a smartphone and illegally text a friend while driving down the highway at seventy miles per hour. I can choose to drink while driving that same vehicle. I can choose to stay up late and to get up early, knowing my fatigue could affect my driving. Many times nothing will happen as a result of these kinds of significant, simple choices; however, very bad things can happen because of these very same choices.

As we skip along the stepping-stones toward rock-solid living (or not), Jesus instructs us to walk toward the edge of the yard, where there seems to be a fence or wall. We can’t see over the wall, but we must choose a gate to go through. Jesus seems to be hosting a game show from the past. He wants us to choose “door number one or door number two.” Yet He is very clear which door He wants us to choose. He even tells us the reasons He wants us to choose this particular door. In fact, He actually tells us what is behind each door. So will we walk by faith or not? Let’s examine our choices carefully.

The Broadway

After telling us which gate He wants us to choose, Jesus immediately describes the broad gate. It seems to be a popular gate; there are a whole lot of people going through it. In fact, there seem to be more people choosing this gate than the one that Jesus Himself recommends. Jesus actually points out that many people go through it. Clearly, it is more spacious because it is wide. So it is apparently easier to get through. Lots of people choose this way because they want to travel with friends…even though Jesus says not to go through this gate.

I find it surprising that the Son of God is the gatekeeper who is trying to direct people away from this gate, but many are still choosing to reject Jesus’s guidance. These people still want to be independent of God and to go and do their own thing. Living independently of God has been the whole problem from the very beginning. Just as with Adam and Eve, people choose to act differently from what God knows is best. Why do we do this? That’s a very good question, and I wish I had the answer.

One thing I do know for certain is that our freedom to choose has a lot to do with it, and when we adopt the attitude that we are gods in and of ourselves, our choices become even more problematic. Since our original ancestors took the plunge into darkness, creating a defect in our nature, which the Bible calls “the sin nature” or “flesh” depending on the translation you are reading, it has become easy to worship the creature rather than worship the Creator. Our inner persons became corrupted; therefore, it’s so easy to follow that big crowd going through that gate—all those people are laughing and seeming to have such a good time, oblivious to the consequences of their actions. It’s so easy to ignore that voice inside that is trying to get us to do the right thing—especially when we may just want to enjoy this party of life, believing the lie that “you only go around once” in life, so you should go after your desires. When we buy into this lie, we may ask ourselves, “Who needs God’s guidance?”

Yet we do not have to go that way. We can choose life. We can choose to be “slaves to God” rather than “slaves to sin.” Those not seeking Christ will most likely ignore His guidance and seek the latter (and broad way) rather than the former (and the life gate.) It’s heartbreaking that people ignore Jesus’s abundant living book. He tells us not to choose the wide gate, and He gives us a great reason. He says, “Hey, don’t go that way! There’s another gate to go through! Choose that other gate! You are on a path of self-destruction, and if you keep walking through that gate, you are toast! Don’t do it!” It really is hard to believe that when there’s a perfectly good gateway that leads to life, some people simply will not take the path that would be best for them.

I have seen it happen again and again, and it is just mind-boggling. Parents behave in self-destructive ways and model self-destruction for their children. They end up molding them into those who choose or seek out the broad way. They take the path that feels good and looks good, but it is not. Some break free and choose the path Jesus has proclaimed, but very few do. Some choose Jesus’s way after many years, but they do so only after their lives have been wrecked. It would have been better to make good choices from early in life, rather than being trapped in quicksand.

Let me join Jesus and call out to you as you read this book. Jesus truly came, not only to be the Savior of the world but also to be your Savior. He lived through all kinds of tribulation, trauma, abuse, and brokenness, and He died in your place. He really can identify with you. He knows where you are, and He knows you. He knows where all the sandpits of life are. He knows how to give life and give it to the full. He knows what’s behind that wide gate, and He’s lovingly trying to convince you to choose another way. It’s not too late! But, then again, you may have already walked through that wide gate. The broad way may already be in your rearview mirror. You and that big crowd, with whom you have traveled, may be up to your necks in a quicksand, traumatized life. You are tired, and you’re weary, and you are overwhelmed. You’re struggling hard just to keep your head up above the muck and quagmire. Jesus is throwing you a life preserver to put under your armpits.

Narrow Gates and Terrorists — Blown Up Planes … Life!

Let me ask you some questions: Would you want to go through a cramped, little gate? Would you want to go through a confining space that slows you down? Would you want to have to wait in line while others go through the gate ahead of you? No one likes being cramped, and no one likes being confined. So, surely, no one would want to go through a narrow portal. Going through such a gate seems like it would be a trigger for claustrophobia. It’s no wonder that Jesus says that few will find it; however, those who want to have life, and have it to the full, will gladly go through this gate. Once people realize that the narrow gate is the ticket to being alive, safe, and sound, they don’t mind the little gate. They don’t mind the narrowness. They don’t mind being a little cramped.

In fact, we see this every day in American airports. Think about it. Since September 11, 2001, the rules of traveling through an airport have been confining. Every day we take off our shoes, our belts, and maybe other items of clothing to go through a narrow gate so that we can fly. Over the last several years, not only have we walked through that narrow passageway, but also some of us have had to be stopped and x-rayed. Some of us are groped before we are allowed to pass. The cost of the extra security is included in our tickets. So we actually pay more for this narrow experience. Is there any good reason why we so willingly go through such aggravation? Sure there is. We want to be sure a terrorist, or some other evil person, can’t get through that gate. We want to be sure that we are safe. We don’t want a wide gate where anyone at all can enter the airplane, because we want to be as assured as possible that we will make it to our destination alive. You see, it is about the destination, as well as about the journey. We choose the narrow gate, because we want rock-solid safety as we travel. We want life.

The Ultimate Terrorist In This Journey We Call Life:

There is an ultimate terrorist. Jesus says of Himself, “I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it to the full” (John 10:10b). But He also talks about someone else just prior to this. This  other one has been terrorizing humanity since the beginning. Jesus says of him, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10a). John says, in 1 John 3:8, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” And he, Satan, is the ultimate deceiver who would just love for people to take the path that leads to destruction. He is the ultimate terrorist. He is the one who draws people into the muck and mire of quicksand living and makes them storm victims. He does not twist arms and force people onto the path. They choose it.

Yet I am here to say, you don’t have to go there. The remainder of this book makes it clear that true rock solid living is found beyond the narrow door. It is found behind the unimpressive door. It is found behind the door that few people will choose to go through, comparatively speaking. It’s the way that teaches principles of truth that will help you be free…completely free. It will help you be completely alive. These teachings are not just ideals. They represent practical grace and empowerment for living. You can count on it. You will face challenges, storms, and heartache. But following God’s plan for rock-solid living will give you the ability to have a sure foundation for navigating the storms of life that will surely blow against you. Life’s journey can be filled with stumbling blocks to living, or it can be filled with very real stepping-stones to rock solid living.

The choice is yours. Whether these experiences are stumbling blocks or stepping-stones depends on what you believe regarding Jesus and His teachings and what you do with those teachings. You can ignore His cry to avoid the wide gate. That is definitely your choice. You can listen to His call to watch out, and you can pay attention. You can take the narrow gate. You can believe Jesus when He says that this narrow gate will take you to life. Or you can choose not to believe, and you can go with the crowd. One thing is for certain: the narrow gate means life. Broad way means…well…you know.  Choose wisely.

God Bless You

Chaplain Mac,

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