It doesn't exist. That is my word for today.
Luke 13:24 & 25, NRSV, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’”
I was reading this passage this morning and I disappointed myself. I found the question going through my head was, “Like how narrow are we talking about here?” There are some daily definites that I just don’t need. I don’t need to know how long I will have to wait in line at the bank or grocery store. I don’t even need to know if someone in my house will get sick today (We have had two dogs with tummy issues overnight…sleepy house today). Apparently, I would like to know if I am thinking to broadly about this door, however.
Since I got married in my 30s, I spent some time doing singles’ ministry discipleship beforehand. It was a lot of fun; but, let’s face it, one of the primary goals of the group was to graduate to the newly married class. One morning there was a free-for-all in Sunday School, although we don’t call it that anymore, do we? I still use the term
So, there we were, assured that no one would be judged for asking any question, and…bam. “How far is too far before marriage?” This is the question on a lot of singles’ minds. As the pastor stammered for an answer, a very wise guy stood up and asked why we would even ask this question.
See, the flaw in our logic is the very nature of the question. We want to know how to walk just far enough over “the obedience line” to say that we did it right. We want for Christ to say, “You can kiss, but no heavy petting”. I still don’t know what heavy petting means, exactly. I always picture my husband petting me heavily on the head. I don’t think that is it.
So, what about this narrow door? What are we expecting Christ to say? If you give 10%, that will cover that area. If you read your bible for 15 minutes and pray for 15 minutes that will cover that area. Oh, and make three out of four Sundays in a pew. Our task list could be renamed, “Eternal Reassurance List”. It would be magnificent. I would get my gold star stickers out and sleep well at night. It would also be predictable, stagnant and Pharisaical…things that our Savior is not.
You and I both know that this mentality has nothing to do with relationship. It has nothing to do with this narrow door. My husband would be so offended if I just made a checklist to get by in our marriage, even though it might be useful if he could tell me exactly what would fill him up to the brim everyday. I would get out my gold stars and rename my task list, “The Happy Marriage List”. I think that he deserves four home cooked meals per week, one clean bathroom and approximately 20 minutes of engaging conversation per night. But, that would never work in our home. It is my job to find out what he needs and meet those as best as I can. My husband is looking for authentic.
One of our pastors preached yesterday on this passage, Luke 9:23 & 24, NRSV, “Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.” He made an interesting emphasis.
Every day we have to take up our cross, not The Cross. It is our assigned cross that only we can carry through this life. The deeper I get into relationship with Christ, the more I realize that my cross is wrapped in the way that I grew up and the influences that I experienced. It is the injustices and the concerns of my life, but it is not to be a burden to tote around in that form. My cross is then covered in the blood of Christ. All of these things that make up my cross are roads to refining me for eternity. They make up the narrow door that leads to my freedom.
There are points in my life where I could have really sweated a passage like this, but here is what I have found. The longer that I walk this road, the more Christ narrows my path. The temptations, trials and pleasures do not have the same texture to them. They seem different and my cross feels different. It gets less cumbersome the further I go. I am drawn to different things and repelled by new things. It is extraordinary when I realize that God is changing my very composition. I cannot do that, but He does. I literally am a new creation with new desires and contentedness. I can see that whenever I do face that door, He will have me just where He wants me.
Let’s desire His work in our life today.
Father, let us come before you as a blank slate. Make the changes that only you can make in order to prepare us for that narrow door. Thank you for your constant provision and care in this process.