In Matthew 7:14, Jesus says, “Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (KJV).” When I think about this straight gate and narrow way, I usually envision a narrow, but even path on level ground. A place I can stroll along without getting lost or really being in danger.
But what if the straight gate and narrow way described by Jesus winds up a mountain? I’ve been on some narrow paths in some serious mountains. In the past I might walk on narrow mountain paths carefully (because I’m a klutz). But I would try them. Now, my vertigo makes it almost impossible for me to choose some of these paths. Narrow is fine, but steep is another story. There have been paths that I have hiked only because Tom is there to guide me and help me over the most difficult parts. I know my vertigo isn’t rational, but it is real. And when I am crying and clinging to the mountain at my back, sometimes the only way I can move on is by closing my eyes and clutching Tom’s hand.
I hate that my fear keeps me from following Tom on some of the more spectacular hikes we could take. But steep trails make me dizzy and then I become convinced I am going to walk right off the edge. I want to be bold, fearless and independent, but instead I end up whimpering and clinging.
Sometimes, when we choose to follow Christ, we end up on a straight gate and narrow way with steep cliffs along the side. I wonder if there are times I have refused to follow where He leads because of my fear. Are there paths I am refusing to take now? Walking on the heights with Jesus Christ can make us dizzy. And afraid.
But Jesus always leads the way. Just as Tom is patient with my fears, helping me over the roughest places, Jesus is patient with us. He will never ask us to go a place he does not go first. But our focus has to be on Him and not on the path. Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “If we gaze at the road instead of at him who goes before, we are already straying from the path.” (Cost of Discipleship, The Great Divide).
In the end, if I keep my eyes on Jesus, it doesn’t matter what the narrow way looks like. My fears are pushed aside when I focus on the One who leads. It doesn’t matter what the path looks like or what danger is ahead because Jesus Christ will get me through. I am not afraid when my eyes are fixed on him.
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.