My husband and I enjoy coffee together in the mornings. I worked at a coffee shop in my younger years but my husband is the one who brews the coffee since he relishes doing so. As I sat opposite him at the kitchen table today, the conversation that transpired was about the meaning of narrow, and that being derived from the verse Matthew 7:14, “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” It came about since we’ve been here a little bit over a year and still with the same lingering question as to why we were moved from the Southeast coast all the way to the Pacific Northwest.
I must say that prior to our move, my family went through some really hard times. It involved my husband losing his job and selling some personal belongings to make ends meet. We experienced the bitterness of facing the possibility of being without a home. By God’s mercy, our worst fears didn’t become a reality. I remember us walking at this place called Veteran’s Park which we dubbed the “Desolation” Park (We made it a habit to walk there when we went through some things) and thought positive things about moving to Seattle. We didn’t end up there exactly but we moved close enough. As a matter of fact, after our trip there shortly after we got settled, my husband and I both agree we like it better where God placed us.
A few possible scenarios as to the why were brought up but the conversation took a turn to him asking me about how many people in my estimation are genuine Spirit-filled believers within a congregation. My mind immediately went to Jesus’ illustration about the narrowness of the eye of a needle and so the figure which instinctively came to me was 10%. When we say 1 out of 10, it doesn’t sound as narrow but as we increase the number to 1000 all the way to 1,000,000, we start to see the severity and weight of the word narrow. In a congregation of a thousand, let’s say there are several families of four with the parents truly redeemed. It is not guaranteed that the children are automatically redeemed as they grow older. Although we put our hope that godly rearing will keep them, the choice is still theirs to make. Then within the same congregation, there are those who say they are saved and actively do good works (Matthew 7:21-23) for the church, and some who have not dealt with unforgiveness and this is a matter of grave importance because one does not know how to forgive unless they fully know what it’s like to truly be forgiven (Matthew 18:21-35). I do not mean to question the validity of one’s salvation but if the struggle of unforgiveness is an issue, it impedes spiritual maturity for a believer.
The good news is that God is patient with everyone.
“He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’”
Visualize yourself as that barren fig tree. Being pruned and the smell of fertilizer is far from what you had in mind. You get dung (unpleasant circumstances) dumped on you to get you to produce! You don’t like being around dung let alone soak it up (have to go through it), but it grows you.
If you’re facing something that seems dark and difficult today, know that it is only momentary. Only God knows the fruit that grows as a result, but first, we need to get established to the idea, and not just know it, but fully accepting that being fertilized is an integral part in our spiritual walk.