Over the last 6 months, I’ve ventured back into the world of running. I could probably , over the last 20 years, count on one hand, how many times I had ran up to a mile. I began the journey to get healthier in 2013, along with my wife and last fall, decided to kick it up a notch, challenging myself to train for and compete in a Spartan race. Needless to say, it has been quite a journey. It’s been exciting to see the progression. In September, I could barely do a mile and now, 6 months later, I am pushing between 4 and 5 miles. I don’t particularly like running, but I can’t be mad at the progression.
One of my favorite things so far, is hitting the trails at a local park. They have paved and dirt trails, that give a nice challenge and are also quite scenic. Never run through, without seeing a family of white tail deer watch me run by. It’s a beautiful time to be in some solitude and push the body a little bit more and more each time around. To share some of my routine, on Mondays, I usually do some interval runs through my neighborhood. It’s very hilly and definitely good training, which as prepared for the longer trail runs later in the week.
So last week, I decided to change my Monday up a little. I ran out of my neighborhood, onto the main road and planned to do a little more of a distance run. When you get out of my neighborhood, it is less hilly and windy, and more long and flat stretches. Being the first time, I found this run more challenging, and by 2 miles, I found myself walking again for a bit.
I was bummed at myself afterwards, but then a thought begin to fill my mind. That particular run is the perfect metaphor for the life away from God, when we choose the world first. It was wide open, I could see for quite a ways, and while running it felt like a hopeless effort to get to the goal. I then started getting flashes to my first real encounter with God, when I came to know Christ. He showed me that my life had been just that. Wide and open and easy. Easy in the sense, that there was no risk, and I could always see ahead of me, striving for a goal that only found significance in this life and it was empty.
It was in this moment that God showed me that, if I would trust Him, the road he would take me down from there would be narrower and very windy. I would never see around the next bend, but He would always be there with me and ahead of me. This run was the perfect reminder of that moment and reflection of my life before I met Christ verses after. Maybe that’s a part of the reason I like the trail runs better.
God then reminded me of two very significant verse in Matthew. Jesus says:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14 (AMP)
What a significant reminder this was to me. The “with God life,” as Dallas Willard calls it, is a narrow and windy road. It is one that is difficult to travel, but the fruit and results of choosing this narrow road are very rewarding, eternally. Unfortunately, only a few choose to enter this narrow gate and take the difficult path.
In actuality, though, it shouldn’t be difficult. Because of our false-self, and because of the decision we make through that, we make the road harder and harder. We have world in our ear, we have the enemy out to sabotage us, and we are tempted to gravitate toward the less wild lovers that we find false significance and validation in. We want the easy road. We want the shortcuts. In our culture now, we want everything quicker and simpler.
Fortunately, I won’t say unfortunately…Fortunately, for us, God does not work that way. He is trying to constantly slow us down get us to turn our hearts and minds towards Him. In order for our continued restoration to happen, until the day that we step into eternity, there will be many turns and hills and obstacles to move through and around. Choosing this path with God, will be the best decision you could ever make.
I don’t say this lightly. I’ve been on both sides of this, but I have seen some amazing things, since I chose to let go and allow Jesus to do what He needs to do in my heart, which has. in turn, caused a major ripple that has impacted my family and so many others. It’s pretty cool to see that happen.
So my challenge to you today. Take the narrow and winding road with God. It’s a journey that only a few take, just as Jesus said. Be one of those few. He’s showing you the Kingdom. Take up the challenge and choose the narrow road. I promise you that you won’t regret it.