Lately we have had some gorgeous weather. With this weather comes the opportunity to get outdoors; for some, this is a stroll down the park, or a visit to the beach. For my family, it is getting out into the countryside, getting off the beaten track to see what we can discover.
Don’t get me wrong, visiting the more populated places like Ben Nevis, or The Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye is nice, but there is something about getting off the populated routes, finding beautiful hidden Lochs or valleys, reaching those lesser visited summits, carrying a tent on your back and pitching up in the middle of nowhere, or taking a picnic and spending a day by the river with no one else around.
The peace and beauty in these places really brings home to you Gods creation, and the Joy of seeing things most people don’t is very much worth the extra effort.
Over the last few days we have made a few of these trips. I have had plenty of time to reflect on Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
This is a well known verse by many, and most people recognise it to be talking of salvation, of how before we knew Jesus, we were all on the Broad way to death, but there is more to it than that.
Notice how Jesus describes the Narrow gate, Narrow is the gate and difficult the path which leads to life.
I like to think of this as the path less travelled.
Above this post is a photo I took on one of our walks. In this image there are two paths, one is clearly defined, easy to walk, flat and clearly well used, the other is off to the left, look closely and you can see it, it is darker, hard to see, overgrown,lumpy and worst of all, it goes uphill.
Walking that first path is easy, you can do it in shorts and sandals with no problem, the second requires a little more preparation and effort, as a minimum you would want good shoes, and a pair of trousers.
For some just looking at that path and thinking of the extra effort and preparation it would take is enough to keep them off of it. For others it may look scary and intimidate them, but if you knew that at the end of that path, was the only water source in 100 miles, you would not hesitate to prepare for and undertake that journey.
If you are going hiking and wild camping, you need to prepare a lot more than if you are going for a picnic. If you are going for a picnic, you need to prepare a lot more than if you are going for a stroll in the park. The amount of preparation needed isdirectly in relation to where you are planning to go, directly in relation to your journey and destination.
Why do we prepare?
It is because we plan to reach our goal. Whether it’s the park at the end of the street, the river three miles up the track, or the mountain top via an overnight camp by the glacial lake, we prepare for our journey so we can see it through, if we didn’t prepare we would give up, turn back or in some cases get badly hurt or die.
We prepare because we anticipate the destination, the Joy it will bring to us, because we desire to see that beautiful view, or relax by the river bend while we eat with our family; because we want the joy, peace, and happiness we will get from reaching the journeys end.
In the same way we should be preparing for the journey we are on now, we are travelling a difficult path, one filled with pitfalls and snares, one which is contrary to the world we live in today; but are we really prepared for this journey?
Preparation for this journey comes from the changes Jesus makes in each of us, as we spend more time in His word, in prayer, in fellowship, in submission and accountability to each other as believers, in contemplation of His words; then we grow and mature in understanding and perseverance, in love and patience, and much more besides.
So do we see the following traits increasingly in our lives?
Patience, Peace, Love, Joy, Kindness, Gentleness, Self Control.
The closer we get to Jesus, and the more we mature in understanding, the more we should be seeing these things in the individual moments of our daily lives.
Do we regularly recognise the undeserved gift we have in Jesus? Are we traumatised again and again by our Gods mercy for us?
Do we daily dwell on Jesus’ Life, His words, His example, His death, and of course, His resurrection?
Do we speak to God, not just in the morning or evening, or at meal times, but moment by moment, seeking guidance in the little things as well as the big?
Is God constantly on our minds?
If you answered NO to a number of the above, can I plead with you now, go to your pastor, seek out a good Christian friend, find a good Bible study group, be a seeker and dwell on Jesus.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Jesus waits for you….
If you answered yes to a number of the above, can I ask that you make yourself available, do as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”
Be an Imitator of Jesus and Paul, follow their examples, make disciples, invest time into others, share Jesus, be willing to speak to those who seek, encourage those who are new to the faith, Bible study with fellow disciples and pray together.
Be in each others lives….