Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Choosing God is not a simple decision. There are some who would try to convince you otherwise, but for those of us that have faced the darkness, and now see the light – we know that our journeys have been far from easy. We know what it feels like to face antagonizing pain and frustration, while question if we can still embrace hope. Our faith is tested, as we question whether to rely on human logic or divine wisdom. And most importantly, we know that we don’t always get it right, but we strive to course correct anyway because choosing God means that we live with intention. We walk down paths that many are not willing to take, and we find the narrow gate.
Jesus provided us guidance as to the importance of our choices when He said:
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.”Matthew 7:13-14
You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me
To find the way which leads to life signifies two important points. First, we are addressing our relationship with Christ. Second, we are actively rejecting what will take us off course. To do both, we look to God’s first commandment in Exodus 20:3, which says: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” At a cursory glance, this commandment may feel simple, but there is a reason it comes first. We cannot fully achieve all ten, if we cannot embrace this one.
Whatever or whoever we put before God blocks us from being able to enter by the narrow gate. For example, how can we have the self-control and contentment needed to not covet, if we’ve prioritized material possessions and the opinions of others over God? The truth is we cannot. It’s easy to make idols out of the habits, desires, and priorities we want to hold onto when we aren’t fully aligned with the will of God. Submission is difficult when we lack trust in God.
The Fight Within
Often, we want to put our own needs first, no matter the cost to others. We live in a society that glorifies such decisions. Nevertheless, we go down a path that makes us gods, as we place ourselves above the one true God. Our desire for comfort, refusal to change, and the denial of habits that need to change all influence the gates by which we enter. We realize that if we put God first, then we’re walking directly into conflict – whether it be with the carnal nature of ourselves, or those around us.
For many, conflict is to be avoided. We’d rather keep the peace than stand up for what is right. Consider this – if putting God first leads to conflict in our relationships, are we still willing to speak up? If the path we’re called to take isolates us from the community we consider dear, are we really willing to leave? Fear of the unknown will cause us to miss out on some of our greatest blessings. But why the struggle? If we’re having a hard time choosing God, what does that say about us?
It says that we’re humans. The fight within us is real. Satan wants to consume our minds, so he toys with our hearts. We feel it. We see it. And sometimes, we succumb to it. Remember, however, that while putting God first is often the hardest commandment to follow, it’s the one that keeps us the most spiritually safe. Although Jesus cautioned us that few would find the narrow gate, He gave us every tool needed to be in that number.
Facing Our Fears
We’ve often been told that our choices are a reflection of who we are. And while this may be true, I’d also like for us to understand that our choices are often a reflection of what we fear. For example, if we fear the pain of a difficult conversation, we’ll choose silence. Doing nothing will not solve the discomfort within our own souls, but it quiets the fear. In turn, we live our lives making choices to keep us “comfortable” instead of making choices that align to God’s will.
Christ’s toolbox isn’t just about fixing the outside, it’s really aimed to help us gain control over the inside. Instead of letting our emotions rule us, we begin to regulate how we respond to the darkness. We realize that God’s light extends far beyond any moment in time, and with God, all things are truly possible. Now, I know it’s not easy to always choose the narrow gate – to walk a path so different from what most think it should be.
The narrow gate may come with unwanted opinions, doubts, or disdain, even from those we love the most. We must, however, keeping pressing forward. Should you start to feel weak, study the word. When the days are the heaviest, leave it at the throne in prayer. Relief is always available to those who choose the narrow gate. James 5:16 reminds us that “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” So stay the course, and place your trust in the hands of God. He’s waiting to help you find the narrow gate and walk the path that leads to life.
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