There was this 3-hour evening course I really fancied, and invited my friend to come to tea, then to the course with me, and I’d drop her back home at the end. Good plan. But I hadn’t figured on the weather. She lives in a tiny village at the top of a steep hill served only by single-track winding lanes. And as we worked away on the course, the snow set in. And she needed to get home that night. I hate driving narrow lanes at the best of times – give me a motorway any day! I battled my way up against the blizzarding snow, dropped her home, then slithered down again, terrified of meeting another vehicle on its way up. So glad was I to finally meet the main road!
Jesus talks about main roads and narrow lanes in Matthew 7:13-14.
I always used to wonder why God made the right way so difficult. But that is 21st century western thinking. Back in Jesus’ day, what made the difference between a track and a main highway? The number of people that used it. Much trampling of many feet caused the ground to be beaten down, the grass to stop growing and the hedgerows to be pushed back. It’s easy to travel where so many have gone before. The right road is more challenging because it’s less travelled.
So I suppose these couple of verses have a simple enough meaning – if most people are doing it, then don’t. Jesus often saw people like sheep – all following one another. Going counter-flow is what is needed; not for its own sake, but because we have listened to God, heard his instructions and obediently followed his directives.
I’ve been re-reading Brother Andrew’s God’s Smuggler. What has impressed me most was his sheer dependence on God. I don’t see those sort of provision miracles simply because I don’t have those needs. I don’t put myself in those risky places. Is that because God hasn’t asked me to do anything exciting, or because when he has, I haven’t listened? Or maybe my ‘counter-flow’ is a different shape, not so dangerous, but challenging all the same.
The important lesson here, is that we don’t get stuck in the rut carved out by others; that we hear God’s directives for our own lives, and follow them wherever they lead. That’s what makes it exciting!