I stand in a certain spot on top of the ridge. As I stand catching my breath, I peer through a narrow opening between two houses that sit there. Here is my reward for walking up the steepest street in our neighborhood. Through that narrow opening I can see for miles. I see hills and ridges like waves that flow to the Tennessee River. It’s a beautiful view. For weeks I had climbed that street but never took the time to notice the narrow opening, the view. I was too busy concentrating on getting to the top, and then carefully walking back down. The street is so steep I have to lean a little forward to make it to the top, and lean back a little on the way down. I stand there on that ridge and think of what Jesus said about entering the gates of heaven. So Jesus said it again: “Dear children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the Kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”— Mark 10:24-25 The view I have of the river is a narrow one. The way into heaven is, too. I think about how what Jesus said has become clearer to me over time. I make my way back down the ridge.
I think back to my youngest years and how my Christian foundation was laid. I was blessed to have had family and church to lay that firm foundation. No matter what, I have always had it to rely on and bring me back to where God desires me to be. I learned that there is no grey area in the Bible. It is black and white, period. Everything in God’s Word has come true, with the exception of Jesus’ return. When I was young, and up until only a few years ago I thought all Christians believed the same. In recent months I have been saddened to learn the people who proclaim to walk the walk, don’t. Fellow Christians who have decided the world has a better answer. Fellow Christians who don’t want to hear the warnings of what they may be doing or supporting is ungodly. Fellow Christians who are quick to shut down other Christians who speak against the world view and who try to warn against the direction they are taking. I’ve always understood times like these would come, but I never imagined in my own country, nor that I would be a witness to it. I never imagined the people I have gathered with to study and hear God’s Word, people who seemed so much more intellectually above me when it came to His Word, people who can quote scripture at the drop of a hat and go into a dissertation that is way over the head of this country girl, would be the same ones who turned against what God expects from us. It truly hurts my heart.
Every day on my morning walk, I climb the steepest street in the neighborhood. I stand on top of the ridge and I look through the narrow opening. I see a heavenly sight, and I pray that one day my fellow Christians who are so focused on the world will finally decide to stop, catch their breath, and remember the narrow way. The Way that is our final reward.
4 One day he gave this illustration to a large crowd that was gathering to hear him—while many others were still on the way, coming from other towns.
5 “A farmer went out to his field to sow grain. As he scattered the seed on the ground, some of it fell on a footpath and was trampled on; and the birds came and ate it as it lay exposed. 6 Other seed fell on shallow soil with rock beneath. This seed began to grow, but soon withered and died for lack of moisture. 7 Other seed landed in thistle patches, and the young grain stalks were soon choked out. 8 Still other fell on fertile soil; this seed grew and produced a crop one hundred times as large as he had planted.” (As he was giving this illustration he said, “If anyone has listening ears, use them now!”)
9 His apostles asked him what the story meant.
10 He replied, “God has granted you to know the meaning of these parables, for they tell a great deal about the Kingdom of God. But these crowds hear the words and do not understand, just as the ancient prophets predicted.
11 “This is its meaning: The seed is God’s message to men. 12 The hard path where some seed fell represents the hard hearts of those who hear the words of God, but then the devil comes and steals the words away and prevents people from believing and being saved. 13 The stony ground represents those who enjoy listening to sermons, but somehow the message never really gets through to them and doesn’t take root and grow. They know the message is true, and sort of believe for a while; but when the hot winds of persecution blow, they lose interest. 14 The seed among the thorns represents those who listen and believe God’s words but whose faith afterwards is choked out by worry and riches and the responsibilities and pleasures of life. And so they are never able to help anyone else to believe the Good News.
15 “But the good soil represents honest, good-hearted people. They listen to God’s words and cling to them and steadily spread them to others who also soon believe.”—Luke 8:4-15