by Michael E. Brooks
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Driving up into the hills of Ilam district in east Nepal is a beautiful, breathtaking experience. The road is steep, very crooked, narrow and not always very smooth. But what a trip it is! The drive through the tea estates and wooded hills provides wonderful panoramic views, interesting sights of ponies laden with cans of milk, and much concern about the caution and skills of the many drivers. A recent trip into this area produced tired bodies but exhilarated spirits, not least because of the joyous reception with which the Gospel was greeted.
South and west of Ilam is H-1, the major east-west highway of Nepal, reaching to the borders of India in both directions. For much of its course this road is straight, wide, level, and mostly smooth. However, strikes and protests are currently taking place along it, with disruption of traffic, physical injury, and even death to those brave (or foolish) enough to risk the drive. Though the trip is easy in most ways, the likelihood of destruction is very real.
These two roads are excellent illustrations of one of the great principles of life taught by Jesus. The easiest way is rarely the best. It seldom offers as much reward, and often presents greater dangers. As real as is the threat of accident in the hills, the possibility of attack by armed thugs in the plains is far greater, and more dangerous.
Spiritually, this is even more true. Life offers many easy paths. There are always ways to avoid effort and take the lazy route. It is also much easier to say yes to temptation and immoral acts. Denying ourselves is always challenging, requiring great effort. But giving in leads to sin, guilt, and eventual destruction.
Nor does the easy way offer the rewards of the other. The fields of Nepal’s plains are often pretty, but they do not begin to match the spectacular beauty of the hills and mountains. Only by going up into the narrow twisting roads of the hills can one experience this unique scenery. There is no other way.
So it is with life. We cannot enjoy the blessings of God without following the more difficult path of Christ. His rewards will come only to the righteous who have obeyed his will.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
by Michael E. Brooks