May4MonMay 4, 2020
This reflection and invitation to prayer is based on 1 Kings 18 and Pastor Reg Lewicki’s message
Living in and for the kingdom of Jesus is a narrow way, not the broad way we often want it to be. Think of the word “narrow.” Our generation would deem this word as disgusting, non-inclusive, opinionated, small-minded, and “old.” It’s a word that, if detected in people, is usually scorned and shamed.
We can get narrow in loving or use narrow as an excuse in not being willing to learn more and expand ourselves. We have often used narrow as free pass in judging and condemning others. This is definitely not how “narrow” is to be lived out.
“Narrow” is a word with hidden beauty attached to it when one walks on it (yes, on it!) in company with Jesus. It actually becomes the path to real life. Jesus describes it in Matthew 7:13-14.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
We turn to 2 Kings 18 where Elijah gathers God’s people to challenge them in their long disobedience to “narrow.” God’s people, the prophets of Baal, the evil King Ahab and Elijah gathered at Mount Carmel. I invite you to read the story for yourself. I will highlight the points that Reg made in uncovering “narrow.”
Narrow means you might be called or seen as someone you are not. (17)
Narrow means you can’t hide among the people on the broad path so you don’t stand out. (20-21)
Narrow means you have to speak up sometimes. (20-21)
Narrow means you have to make a choice – in how you live, what you believe and in who has your allegiance. (20-21)
Narrow means living against your culture while living in it. (3-4)
Narrow means checking in with yourself regularly to see who/what you are worshipping. (20-21)
Narrow means having to die to places of attachment that are in opposition to having an undivided heart. (39-40)
Narrow often involves an altar, a place of sacrifice. (30-38)
Sit with the first seven descriptions of narrow and ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern if He wants to speak to you in any of them. Then move to the rest of the reflection that is based on the 8th characteristic of “narrow.” It is the altar.
I refer to a favourite book of mine called “Hinds Feet in High Places.” The main character, named Much-Afraid, is on the narrow path that leads to life. Life meaning an intimate relationship with the Shepherd, Jesus. It is a path with many twists in it – there is joy and sorrow, difficult choices, surprising discoveries and…an altar. Much Afraid is faced with a great disappointment and feels like the Shepherd is instructing her to walk where it seems against her greatest desire.
I will quote a portion around the altar.
“Oh, no,” she cried. “You can’t mean it. You said if I would trust you, you would bring me to the High Places, and that path leads right away from them. It contradicts all that you promised.”
“No,” said the Shepherd, “it is not contradiction, only postponement for the best to become possible.”
Much-afraid felt as though he had stabbed her to the heart. “You mean,” she said incredulously, “you really mean that I am to follow that path down and down into that wilderness and then over that desert, away from the mountains indefinitely? Why, it may be months, even years, before that path leads back to the mountains again. O Shepherd, do you mean it is indefinite postponement?”
He bowed his head silently, and Much-Afraid sank on her knees at his feet, almost overwhelmed. He was leading her away from her heart’s desire altogether and gave no promise at all as to when he would bring her back. As she looked out over what seemed an endless desert, the only path she could see led farther and farther away from the High Places, and it was all desert.
Then he answered very quietly, “Much-Afraid, do you love me enough to accept the postponement and the apparent contradiction of the promise, and to go down there with me into the desert?”
She was still crouching at his feet, sobbing as if her heart would break, but now she looked up through her tears, caught his hand in hers, and said, trembling, “I do love you, you know that I love you. Oh, forgive me because I can’t help my tears. I will go down with you into the wilderness, right away from the promise, if you really wish it. Even if you cannot tell me why it has to be, I will go with you, for you know I do love you, and you have the right to choose for me anything that you please.”
It was very early morning, and high above them, hanging in the sky over the silent expanse of desert was a young crescent moon and the morning star shining like a brilliant jewel close beside it. There Much-Afraid built her first altar on the mountains, a little pile of broken rocks, and then, with the Shepherd standing close beside her, she laid down on the altar her trembling, rebelling will. A little spurt of flame came from somewhere, and in an instant nothing but a heap of ashes was lying on the altar. That is to say, she thought at first there were only ashes, but the Shepherd told her to look closer, and there among the ashes she saw a little stone of kind, a dark-coloured, common-looking pebble.
“Pick it up and take it with you,” said the Shepherd gently, “as a memorial of this altar which you built and all that it stands for.”
Knowing that you are with your Shepherd, the Lord Jesus, what might you need to lay on the altar at this time in your life? What is your altar that will lead you to discover the beauty of the narrow path that leads to life? Talk to God about this, and ask for the grace to obey.