"Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." At least that's how it was always said.
One day I got to thinking about the "straight and narrow" and I thought, "That's horseshit! There's nothing straight about this way. How could the Bible say that?!" So I looked. I opened up my Bible and I looked up Matthew 7:13-14, read it and lo and behold the word "straight" isn't anywhere to be found! "Aha!" I thought, "See, some Bible-thumping Baptist threw it in there!" (No offense to Baptists). Then I had the nagging thought that it might just be my translation that omitted it. So I looked it up and I found it there after all...well sort of.
This is how it truly is written: "Enter ye in at the STRAIT gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because STRAIT is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Matthew 7:13-14 KJV
Well what the hell's a strait? Glad you asked.
STRAIT- "a narrow passage connecting 2 large bodies of water; a position of difficulty, distress or need" (dictionary.com) "a route or a channel, so narrow as to make passage difficult" (phrases.org.uk)
And if you look it up in an old sailor's word book you'll find this:
STRAIT- "a passage connecting one part of a sea with another." - from 1867 version of Admiral Smyth's Sailors Wordbook.
The word strait is closely related to and often replaced with CHANNEL- "the bed of a stream, river or other waterway; a navigable route between two bodies of water; the deeper part of a waterway; a course into which something may be directed; a means of access" (dictionary.com) "the deepest part of a waterway, usually marked for safe passage of water traffic." (seatalk.info)
All the sudden. The "strait and narrow" has new meaning. It has breath and life again. It's filled with mystery and wonder. It makes sense. A passage that connects us to other seas?.. A place of depth?...A position of need? ...A means of access? Suddenly I feel like Wonderland is not so amiss and Narnia just beyond the hedge. The "strait and narrow" inspires me with a renewed attraction and awe.
This way I've been on winds and curves and twists. It leads me up mountains and down steep valleys. Sometimes the wood is so thick I can't see where I'm going. Sometimes the mist so heavy, I'm walking purely by faith. Sometimes the Forrest feels enchanted and sometimes it feels haunted. There is nothing straight, nothing straight forward, about it. And some would say, indeed they have, that winding paths lead to straight to hell; that God's not a God of chaos therefore His way is orderly and clearly laid out. Really? Has that really been your experience?
I am not convinced by these people who claim to have all the answers. These people who are set and coasting on a long stretched out highway to heaven. I'm not convinced that is the way.
It is as if I was on this paved path, me with all my answers and concluded beliefs, and this road is surrounded on both sides by a thick wood. And my questions caused me to take my eyes off the road for a second, long enough to catch eye of a small, almost hidden, off the beaten path type of foot path leading into the thick of the wood. And for some curious reason I left everything I knew for the unknown. And I'm finding Him here! My senses are being healed. I can see, I can breathe, I can feel again, I can hear, I can taste. Do you hear what I'm saying? It's not on the straight and narrow! You may not believe me, but if you'll look up from duty and obligation, commands and enforcement, rules and governing for just a second and look around, perhaps your eyes will be free enough to see the winding footpath in the wood where peace and rest and freedom and Grace await you. I can't guarentee you'll see anything, you may not be ready and that's ok. Take heart and trust that God has purpose for you where you are and when it's time to move away, He will lead you there. And oh how I pray that He does soon. And I pray that one day our winding and curving paths of mystery and wonder will cross and that I can welcome you home and maybe walk with you for a bit as we follow our paths to another Sea, to shores we've never tasted or seen.
And one of the great beauties of this revelation is that the "strait and narrow" does not demand that we all walk the same path nor that we walk it the same way. God will most certainly lead you through different parts of this wood than He is leading me through and we will reach similar points at different times and we will sometimes, maybe, intersect and walk through the same thicket or meadow. CS Lewis said, "Each person is created to see a different facet of God's beauty- something no one else can see in quite the same way- and then to bless all worshippers through all eternity with an aspect of God they could not otherwise see." We aren't all supposed to be on the exact same road, as long as we're all headed toward the same ocean. It's how other's stories and tales of their journey's affect ours. It's how an Infinite God has made Himself uniquely transposable to each of us; I don't have to hear Him the same way you hear Him, I get to glean from how you hear Him and vice versa.
This is a beautiful way. This is a way of unity and individuality. It is a way of intimacy and personality. This is a way of mystery and reality. I will not follow some yellow brick road to heaven. I will, however, walk and rest in the current of deep straits and channels that carry me to greater shores.
Say what you will about this strait, I've found Him here and I'm not alone. I believe in this way with my whole being.
"The soul of the common people seems too straight and narrow to be wrought upon by any Part of Eloquence." - The Gifted Words of Monsieur Rapin
"Few there be that find it."...what a great loss.