Last week on a trip to North Carolina, I sat next to babies on crowded, back-to-back flights. The experience has me considering Jesus’ teaching on the broad and narrow paths.
DFW to Atlanta – Struggling to board the plane at the last minute was a family of four. Mom’s hair escaped her pony tail as she hauled two girls, a blanket, three carry-on bags and a sampling of airport food to her seat. The girls, maybe two and four, were followed by a man with one small bag and a flat-brimmed ball cap turned sideways; a man who later loudly clarified that he was not husband but Baby Daddy.
As the plane took off, Mom ripped the foil wrapper off a plastic tub of orange cheese, dipped a giant, soft pretzel in it and fed it to the baby. When the baby got thirsty, Mom poured some Mountain Dew into her sippy cup.
Baby Daddy was sitting a few rows up and after take-off, he came back and helpfully took the baby up front. He returned 30 minutes later, to the poorly ventilated aft cabin, wearing chunky, pink cheese puke on his expensive jeans and holding the baby at arm’s length.
“I don’t know what to do about this,” he said to the child’s mother, kicking off 90-minutes of near-total chaos in the back of the plane.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it,” Jesus said in Matthew 7:13.
He wasn’t talking about feeding your kid cheesy pretzels and Mountain Dew on an airplane, but that is clearly a broad path choice. He was urging us to believe he was who he said he was, thereby giving us the tools of the narrow gate – peace, love, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, humility, faithfulness and self-control.
I wanted to school that woman on the plane, but isn’t that a broad path choice too?
In her New York Times bestseller One Thousand Gifts, author Ann Voskamp writes of using God-lenses to view the world as a gift, rather than seeing only its terrible messes. Because of Voskamp and the narrow gate, I donned God-lenses on the plane, and wound up holding that barfy little girl while her Mom dealt with a major secondary crisis.
Before I read the Bible, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to do that. In fact, I would have silently gloated as that woman suffered the consequences of her choices. What if Jesus made me suffer the consequences of my choices? Oh My God…..
One of the amazing surprises to come from studying The Bible is how often I wind up on the narrow path without really trying. Sometimes I only notice it in hindsight, when I’m walking away thinking “Wow, that was nice of me, weird.”
When I don’t study my Bible, I focus on my plan and charge down the broad path with everyone else, where I behave with impatience, pride and indifference. There, I usually wind up puking on somebody.
The world thinks the narrow path is about privation. It’s not. Jesus said he came so we might enjoy life and have it in abundance. The broad and narrow paths are a simple reminder about causation; and unruliness is costly. So if our actions ripple, as we all know they do, which path produces better ripples?
Broad or narrow?