“For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” – Matthew 7:13
“You can do great things for God if you are willing to be lonely.” – Dave Gibbons
As I have been pondering a lot lately the words of Dave Gibbons, it seems that the old song we use to sing still rings true. “Though none go with me I still will follow.” These are not just nice quotes, poetic sayings. They aren’t catchy phrases or slogans. They are gut-wrenching cries of one who is crawling on the altar as a living sacrifice, and with smoke filled lungs crying out. Powerful words brought forth from the tearing of the soul. Deep-rooted truths that come from one that has been wounded deeply. For our Lord’s words will forever ring true, “Unless you forsake all you have you can not be my disciple.” “Small is the gate, and narrow is the path that leads to life, and few who find it.”
In my walk of Faith, as I try and pursue that which I feel is the right path, I find more and more people falling off my radar. (Activities I enjoyed so much, no longer able to devote time too.) People I have walked with closely, worked along side, even considered close friends, now are just memories of another life.. The pain of the tearing, separation, still felt. Where there was once friendship and companionship now only pictures, memories and dreams. A hollow cavity sits as a reminder of what once was. Memories flash by like fireflies in the night, a bright glow, slowly trailing off, reflecting in my mind what was there at one time. A trail of light, a path showing that there was something beautiful, memorable, maybe even special.
It’s not like this void remains untouched by others, for God will surely bring those who will walk the path with you. Slowly others will come, helping bear the load. (Paul and Silas, Paul and Timothy, Moses and Aaron, Moses and Joshua, Ect.) The scars we bare will forever remind us of the life once lived. But to often, instead of letting the removal and shaping of God’s mighty hand, we shrink back and run away.. We are driven through pain to shrink away from this “Dividing of the soul and spirit”. It could be out of Fear we turn back. Fear of the Unknown. Fear of loss. Or even Fear of isolation. Sometimes it is out of pain retreat! Pain of the losses we have already accrued. We, having come from the fight and suffered loss, refuse to endure anymore. In our weakness and humanity we give in and quit. In doing so we fall back on what we know. We pursue an easier path, something less aggressive, fewer obstacles, maybe even offering better and immediate rewards, but will keep us from our God Given Goal, leaving us unfulfilled… Wanting.. Lacking.. Longing for something more!
The fight has changed. Our spirits shifted. We have accepted the known for the unknown. We now embrace the comfortable, or less abrasive, instead of the hard, fractured, and broken. Comfort and security now become the rule and not the exception, and we leave the narrow path for a much wider and more frequently traveled path where there are people offering more companionship.
Hebrews 10 says it, “Recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated”
1 Timothy 6 urges us “Fight the good fight of the faith.” So as possessions, friends, and hobbies are removed from our grasps we long to hold on to something. With fewer things left in our hands, our grip becomes tighter. Depression comes in with doubt trumpeting its entrance. Loneliness is welcomed as a friend, but gives way to isolation, (who travels with depression). Things that once were clear and understood now are blurred and fogged over. Tears help the eyes, but not to focus; the mind cannot grasp what the spirit is doing.
This is the dying of self. The “Dividing of the soul and spirit.” As Paul writes, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8)
If we are going to gain Christ, and walk as he walked, then these things must come to pass as He foretold, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Paul’s last letter he writes “You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me...” (2 Timothy 1:15) Walking with Christ, Paul is following Him even into the death that awaits him now, for it has been revealed that he is going to die, Paul writes, “Everyone has Deserted me.” Paul’s prior letters reveal the loss of all other things. Wealth, Security, comfort… “for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” Now as his final step approaches, the loss of his own life. He now walks in the valley of the shadow of death and in these last days he is alone.
“You can do great things for God if you are willing to be lonely.” You can truly walk with Christ if you are willing to loose everything that is dear to you. You can really know God if you are willing to “consider the cost” and “forsaking all.” To the world, this is utter failure. Stupidity! Craziness!! We become “fools for Christ’s sake” (1 Corinthians 4:10) But James writes, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) .. “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised…. my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:35 – 39)
We may never see the reward this side of heaven. All things will fail us. People will disappoint. Objects will break. Rust and dust will destroy. We may be counted with those in Hebrews 11 (the Faith chapter), “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”
So why fight? Why Press on?? What hope do we have?? “But he who does the Will of the Father, will abide forever.” “Do not become weary of doing good, for we will reap a harvest if we do Not Give Up.” So we press on towards that High Calling, we hold our heads up high, and say as Paul told Timothy, “the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
Yes, I have memories. I have Longings, I want for something easier with a quicker reward, for comfort and some Ease. To have some luxuries.. Not having to worry about where my next tank of Gas is going to come from. Or how I will provide good things for my children. My flesh craves these and so much more…. But to see eternity in a youth’s eyes, to see brokenness like I have never known and offer love unconditional, I get a glimpse of the reward that is ”stored up in heaven where neither moths, nor rust, or dirt can not destroy, and thieves can not break in and steal.”
“Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”