Strive to enter by the narrow door [force yourselves through it], for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:24
But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it. Matthew 7:14
I love reading the Amplified version because it gives such depth to the words we have read for years. Yea, yea, you may say, I know all about the narrow door, but did you realize that the word strive in the greek means contest? It is also used in other Scriptures to mean a fight, struggle, a wrestling.
That would indicate to me that the door is not an easy one to enter. Apparently, it takes an effort, a struggle, even a fight to get in. That seems rather contrary to our present Christian "say a prayer, believe in Jesus," and you're in, mentality.
But what really struck me was that after you get in, the path is straitened and compressed. In the greek the term can mean: hard, crushed, persecuted, tormented, suffering. Hmm. Doesn't sound like a great altar call to me!
Let's face it, we humans much perfer the path of least resistance, the easy road, the happy road. Sign up for a fight, for suffering? No way! Life is hard enough without adding extra problems. Yet, that is exactly what Jesus tells us we will face. He told us we would have trouble in this world. He told His disciples they shouldn't be surprised when they were persecuted like He was.
Then why do we complain and whine when life doesn't go our way? Why do we think God is after us, or mad at us, has abandoned us, or worse, think God isn't good? He warned us! Yes, bad things will happen. We will feel pressured, crushed, persecuted. Yes, we will suffer. But I've lived long enough with the Lord now to know that along with the problems and the burdens come great blessings!
Just a couple of big examples from my own life:
I grew up without a father. Even worse, he was alive but wanted nothing to do with me. It caused me to have deep-seated insecurities that caused other problems. But it was that longing for unconditional love that brought me to God!
My husband lost his job and our income was sliced to less than half. But God used my husband's unemployment to open his eyes to the truth of the gospel.
I spent fifteen years in a job I hated. It was pure drugery for me. Yet without it, when my husband got laid off, we would have lost our house. Also, it was during those 15 years that God taught me perserverence and discipline which greatly aid me now as a writer. At the time, however, I thought God must hate me to keep me here in this job!
But the greatest blessing of all was that I felt. . .no, I knew that God was with me. And the faith and intimacy that grew out of that tender walk with Him was well worth all the problems!
Feeling pressured today? Got a truckload of problems? Persecuted? Weary? Feeling crushed? Congratulations, you may just be on the right path!!