BY MICHELLE WILLIAMS, GRACE ATTENDER
Philippians 4:7; Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 24:9-11
During the last few weeks, I’ve leaned heavy into my relationship with God. Even though my level of “busy” has actually increased since the social distancing measures were put into place, I’ve fiercely protected my daily time for Bible study and connecting with God. I know in my heart that I’m drawing on Him as a steady source of serenity amidst everything that’s going on in the world, and I’m so grateful that the Spirit nudged me to firmly establish a consistent daily routine only months prior to this all going down. At the same time, I feel deeply heartbroken for those who haven’t yet found God as a source of serenity in a time like the present.
A couple of weeks ago, I attempted to start a blog article about trusting God—but nothing I was writing down worked on any level… My intent was pure; I yearn to be able to help people tap into the peace that passes understanding provided by God. I so wish to help others see that it’s not some sort of empty positivity, but a real source of life and hope. As hard as I tried to capture the right words, I could sense that my ability to explain in an authentic way how to experience that peace was fatally lacking. I stopped trying to write it when I imagined someone reading my words right after having lost a loved one to this virus. It just wasn’t going to work the way my heart longed for it to work. And I wasn’t willing to risk pushing even one person further away from God by doing a hack-job of trying to explain His love for them in the midst of unimaginable pain and suffering.
The truth is, I simply can’t bottle it up neatly in a blog article and pass it along to others. It just doesn’t work that way, especially in a moment of intense loss like this. Even though the need for it feels so incredibly urgent right now, I had to surrender the idea that I could individually offer this peace to anyone else. My soul knows that God’s peace is something that people must experience for themselves.
This moment of surrender is causing me to reexamine my motivation to write at all. I never felt like it was time to give it up, but I can sense that right now is a real refining moment for me. God is pushing me to find clarification in my calling and dig even deeper. I have spent some time wrestling with feeling that my written pieces lined up side-by-side simplistically sound like a broken record—like I’m rehashing the same basic ideas over and over again. Yet, I think I’m also beginning to understand that this may not necessarily be a problem.
I can’t tell anyone exactly where the narrow gate is that leads to God’s Kingdom, but I can describe the difficult road that took me there. And maybe I can describe it in many different ways, so that if one description doesn’t resonate with someone, maybe my next description will. Could this be why the Gospel is repeated from 4 different perspectives in our Scriptures? I think I’m realizing that during this journey, I’ll always be chasing the perfect words, yet I’ll never catch them. And I’m realizing that I’m 100% willing to make that sacrifice for God and pour my life into His purposes, because maybe, just maybe, my words could help one person take one more step toward His narrow gate. It’s so worth it, because I know the immense value of the peace that is found on the inside. I want everyone to find it.
In my first journey to the narrow gate of God’s comforting Kingdom, I was forced to wade through emotional agony that felt like it would never cease. Some of my worst fears had become my new reality, and I felt violently strong-armed into letting go of lifelong dreams and desires for my family. I didn’t want to be on that difficult road. At the exact moment that I begged God to get me off of it, my soul recognized Jesus standing in front of me, and he invited me to follow him through the narrow gate. For whatever reason, my soul decided to accept his invitation.
I realize now that I need to let go of the fantasy that I can find the words to stand in as some sort of a map that may guide people down the difficult road to the narrow gate. Only Jesus can lead them there. I can promise them that Jesus is pursuing them on that difficult road, but I can’t control whether they believe me and I can’t do anything to ensure that they will recognize him. Even his disciples thought the women were full of nonsense when they claimed he had risen following the crucifixion—Thomas wouldn’t believe it was Jesus until he was able to shove a finger into the gaping wounds on his hands. And although they came around to belief, it still took them decades following the resurrection to process the events they experienced well enough to record it in words for the rest of the world. I have to surrender this urgent desire I feel to rush to the end of a race that can only be won through endurance. I have to stop clinging to a fruitless wish that I can find the power to show people a way that bypasses the difficult road, because I am truly powerless.
So many people have found themselves on the difficult road in this moment, and none of us are in control—whether or not we have previously put our trust in God. Many are facing the reality of their helplessness for the first time ever. Some of us are back on the difficult road after already having made a first, second or third journey on it or more. None of us can bypass suffering and escape the difficult road, so doesn’t it seem like such a waste to come so close and then not enter the narrow gate? If we accept his invitation, Jesus promises to be our travel companion through the suffering for the rest of our days, and that’s where the comfort comes from. Since the world has been collectively shoved onto the difficult road and we have no choice in the matter, I’m praying that many will finally turn to Jesus and accept his invitation so they can experience his comfort and peace for themselves. I realize how futile and ineffective an idea like prayer must sound at a time such as this to someone who currently doubts the mere existence of such a leader, much like even the disciples once did. But to those of us who have already accepted the invitation, we truly understand that our hope for others to find the narrow gate lies in the prayer that our beloved Jesus succeeds in his pursuit.