Navigating the narrow path

One of the admonitions given by Jesus to Christians is to choose the narrow path which leads to life [Matthew 7:13-14]. I’m blessed to be surrounded by farmland where I live, so there are many narrow trails around me. Anyone familiar with countryside walks can attest these paths are often uneven and treacherous. Different things can trip you up: From slippery muddy patches to thorns and even the occasional wild animal. Depending on the time of day, visibility may be poor – adding to the sense of peril. Nevertheless, the locals rarely have any issues navigating these trails. They have the correct clothing and equipment to cope effortlessly with challenges along their path.

I see similarities between the Christian walk and trekking a country trail. First, just as there is a trail known to the locals, there’s an ancient trail for the Christians [Jeremiah 6:16]. Disciples of Jesus aren’t at liberty to choose their path because the instruction from the Master is: “Follow Me”, implying that there is a path and a Guide. Second, the Bible tells us that the journey can be dangerous, and we’ll face opposition [Psalm 23:4-5]. So, in addition to being our Chief Shepherd [1 Peter 5:4], God also gives shepherds after His heart who will feed us with knowledge and understanding of His precepts so that we can walk in a manner pleasing to Him [Jeremiah 3:15]. He has also given a Helper, the Holy Spirit, our Guide, and Helper, who reveals God’s will to us as He directs, guides and empowers us on the narrow path [John 14:26, 16:5-15, Acts 1:8]. For Christians, the Holy Spirit is akin to a GPS, but much more – since we cannot complete the journey without Him.

While we have a Helper to assist us on the journey, there’s an element of responsibility on those who choose to walk the narrow path to count the cost [Luke 9:57-62]. It isn’t a journey to be taken without proper consideration because anyone who doesn’t fully commit will most likely fail [Philippians 2:12, Hebrews 12:1-17]. Additionally, the Christian has an adversary whose sole aim is to cause havoc in his life and destroy his destiny [John 10:10, 1 Peter 5:8-9]. But, there’s Good News for those who wholly commit to journey the narrow path, they’ll receive a reward at the end that will outweigh any inconvenience or persecution they had to face along the way [2 Corinthians 4:17-18]. As such, all pilgrims must set out with that hope firmly in view [Romans 5:1-11], knowing that the God who has called us to follow Him has made provisions for the journey [2 Corinthians 9:8].

I’m beginning to understand that God has equipped me with weapons and armour for my journey. The correct gear is available for every pilgrim. Yet, although the finished work of Jesus on the cross guarantees a victorious journey, the extent to which I experience that victory is dictated by how I use my armour and weapons. So, I write as a fellow pilgrim who has stumbled upon these truths, to point those who may be unaware, to the provisions God has graciously made available for our journey. Therefore, I implore you to dig deeper into these things so that you can experience the abundant life promised by God. Personally, I don’t want to get to heaven only to find out my life on earth could have been so much richer if I’d pressed in to understanding how to utilise the provisions God had made for me.

At the end of his letter to the Church in Ephesus, after explaining who we are in Christ, and how we should live, Paul instructs believers to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might [Ephesians 6:10]. That’s the foundation for any pilgrim who successfully navigates the narrow path. Don’t put any confidence in your flesh [Philippians 3:3] because success isn’t down to your wealth, status, power, or anything you can muster, but the Holy Spirit [Zechariah 4:6]. Instead, put on your armour which consists of truth (integrity and moral courage), the breastplate of righteousness (being right with God always) and embody the Gospel of peace (no cognitive dissonance). Our armour also includes the shield of faith to extinguish the fiery darts of your adversary and the helmet of salvation (knowing and believing who you are in Christ). Furthermore, ensure you live a lifestyle of prayer – staying in constant communication with the Spirit [Ephesians 6:11-18].

While the armour defends us against the obstacles and snares on our path [1 John 2:16], there are times we may need to go on the offensive. When that’s the case, we can call on God’s word, which activates His power [Ecclesiastes 8:4]. Nothing in the universe can withstand God’s power [Daniel 4:35], and as Christians, that power resides in us, available to use at all times [Romans 8:11]. We can also call on the name of Jesus [Philippians 2:9-10]. When we do so with faith and understanding, we exercise the authority He gave us over a situation [Mark 16:17-18, Ephesians 1:21, 2:4-7]. Lastly, we can call on the blood of Jesus, which speaks of better things concerning us than the blood of Abel [Hebrews 12:24]. The blood vindicates us when our adversary brings an accusation against us [Revelation 12:11].

In truth, many of us haven’t mastered our armour and weapons yet, and it’s evident in our life experiences as we struggle to stay on the narrow path. Things don’t have to remain that way. We can change the story because all we need to live victoriously is available to us [2 Peter 1:3], but it’s our choice to utilise those provisions. What’s your choice going to be?

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