“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 ESV
I usually do not take the long way home. I like to get where I am going and being out in the country, taking roads that I have no idea where they lead to is not what I would normally do. I have a good friend that does this all the time. He will see a road with a “Dead End” sign and will take the road to see what is at the end of the “Dead End”. I asked him why. He said just because it’s there. You never know what you might find. I told him that was stupid. That is how people disappear. I guess you could say there are other things I am more adventurous at, like taking on a tree with a 7-iron thinking I can get through the limbs on my way to the green. The adventure was how I got there. A bad drive from the tee box. One bad shot followed by another is surly an adventure or just plain stupid. Maybe I should take more “Dead End” trips like my friend.
My parents gave me some advice the other day. They told me how they like to take Sunday afternoons to go on drives together and enjoy the scenery and the company. The rules are the following. Pick a direction… north, south, east, or west and how many miles to drive in that direction. You cannot take any interstate. It must be county roads or back roads only. I was inspired by their advice.
My wife and I went to dinner that evening after my parents shared their idea. We always like to find different places to eat and when the weather is nice, we enjoy finding local eateries that have outdoor seating. We found our restaurant and had a fabulous meal and conversation. On the way home where I usually take the exit to the interstate, I instead went straight on the county road and told my wife we would try something different and take the long way home. I was inspired, challenged, and thought to myself, go for it!
The sun was still up in the west, but gently setting to provide a beautiful evening drive in the country. At first my wife didn’t know where we were. Of course, there were the question, “Do you know where you are going?” which I answered, “Of course I do, kind of.” As we meandered along, the tall corn fields provided a wall on both sides that whizzed by in what appeared to be blazing speed. I enjoyed it. My wife on the other hand was waiting for deer to come out and surprise us. This is another reason why we usually take the interstate. She had an experience with a deer, a cornfield, and a car. I was proud of her as she put that fear aside and we talked about our marriage, our family and ministry assignment as the car slowly made its way home. Life was good and this experiment was working out well and the deer were staying away.
As we approached a familiar small town, we hit the old Route 66 bricks. As I was commenting on how they had replaced some of the older brick with newer brick my wife screamed… “Look out for that hole!” The problem was she saw what I didn’t see at the same time the passenger side tire hit the crater with a crash. Not too long after, my dash was blinking, and my tire was flat. I slowly pull over as the sun was soon to leave us in the dark. All I could think about was how this beautiful moment I was sharing with my wife just got ruined by a hole in the road and my lack of vision to see it. Who would put a hole in the road? Who hasn’t seen the hole in the road? Has anyone else hit the hole in the road or am I the only one who didn’t see a hole the size that takes out a tire? The more questions I asked, the worse I felt about my driving.
I was dazed with discouragement. I was also reminiscing about the tire that was ruined. We had just put new tires on weeks before. I opened the trunk with confidence as my wife asked me if I knew where the spare was. Don’t blame her. It was a legitimate question for her husband. I got the spare out with the jack and studied how the contraption worked as the sun was setting fast. As I was down on my knees replacing the flat, my mom text my wife and asked what we were doing. Christi sent her a picture of me replacing the tire and telling her the story of us taking their advice to go the long way home without any interstates. Believe me, they were the first people I was going to call when we got back on the road. After a half hour to get the donut spare on the car, we were ready to go. On the way home I called my stepdad. He answered with a chuckle knowing what I was about to say. I simply started with… “Sure. Drive the back roads and go on an adventure! That worked out well!” We laughed, he made sure we were ok and as I hung up the phone still mad that I hit the hole, I understood a great life lesson.
Most of us take a risk every now and then and when we do, sometimes we get thumped. We try something new, and it doesn’t work out the way we planned. We start tithing and our washer breaks. We start a relationship, and it goes down in flames. We begin a business, and it fails or sputters to the point we wonder what we were thinking of ever starting our own enterprise. But here is the one that I think happens a lot. We step out in faith to trust Jesus. We put our life in His hands, and we begin the walk on the narrow road. Things at first are great. Traffic is light and the holes are few. Just a few cornfields and a beautiful sunset. We are feeling inspired, and our emotions are running high. We are learning, growing, and enjoying the journey in this newfound love that captivates your attention. Just as we round the corner and admire how good life is, we hit the hole we didn’t see. We are hurt, let down, disappointed. As we change our spiritual tire on the side of the road, we ask ourselves, “What was I thinking? I thought this was supposed to help”. We begin to question if we made the right decision, and the enemy comes in to steal away our joy.
Flat tires happen on the narrow road. Jesus never said it was an easy road. That is why the road is narrow. There are times when the friction of life’s traffic can bring the heat or in this example the holes. But we have a promise. There is life even with the flat tires. Sure, it may be easier on other roads, but on the narrow road even with the holes, life is found. As I reflected on this truth, I thought about what I had learned, experienced and overcome in my little adventure on the back roads of Illinois.
The first thing was how I impressed my wife with my manly action of rescue. There were some cars that stopped to offer help, but I knew I could do this. (I know you are thinking to yourself, who is this guy and why was his wife impressed?) Let’s just say I grew up with the example of calling roadside assistance. I thanked God for His protection and His provision. We had what it takes to take care of the need. Through this experience I got to spend some time with a young minister who helped fix the car. It was an incredible time together. And… I really did enjoy the drive with my wife. It was different, it was new, and we made a memory even at the expense of me. Life happened and out of the flat tire, I experienced life with others.
I also saw that this was a great example of how the enemy attempts to disrupt our momentum when we take steps of faith. We learned something new about Jesus. We step out and apply it. We give it a go and take the long way home. It is the journey full of life both in the moment and for eternity. Then we hit the hole. The tire is not the attention of the enemy. He simply wants to put a negative on a positive experience, so you do not do it again. Has that happened to you? How many people have stopped doing things with Jesus because of hurt, offense and let down. They are stuck in the negative instead of making seeing the positive out of the experience.
When you get stuck on the side of the road, don’t give up and say it’s not worth it. The predictable routes of life will give you exactly that. Predictability. You are comfortable, but you are also bored. Keep stepping out in faith and enjoy the different journey. Live my friend and do not fear the holes in the road. Jesus has true life and when you follow Him, you will make it to your destination.