Updated: Apr 20, 2022
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth. Isaiah 55:10-11 NASB
After doing the morning “big boy” drop offs, Andrew and I arrived back home and noticed there was still some snow on the ground. We had been in California just the day before and were still adjusting to the much cooler temperatures. My focus was on getting us both in the door, turning up the heat a bit, and pouring a second cup of hot coffee. Andrew, however, had a different focus which was running circles on the front lawn. I found a spot in the sun and tried to let the warmth permeate my poor, Vitamin D-deficient body.
It wasn’t until I glanced down that I noticed a little lone daffodil hesitantly making its way into spring. I often picture these early bloomers striving with all their little might, pushing upwards, maybe using their little roots for leverage to get them through the often frozen ground. And this particular little daffodil had one particular little petal that I had to crouch down to see clearly. One petal reaching out more than the others, hoping in spring despite the freezing temperatures. I wonder how it knows it’s time. How did this one petal get the role of scout to see if the others should join? How does it know spring is coming when everything else around it is relentlessly yelling “WINTER!”? How is it so brave?
When I asked Mark what he would be preaching on this last Sunday and he replied with the passage of Matthew 7:13-14, my initial thought was, “Yikes!” However, what came out of my mouth was, “Oh boy. Cover that one with grace, will ya?” Of course, being a man of grace himself, that was his plan. In case you missed it, the Scripture is below:
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. Matthew 7:13-14 NASB
I’ll be honest, when I think of a narrow gate, I think of competition. I mean how many people can fit through a narrow gate at any one time? It’s only the fastest, the best, and the hardest working that make it. That’s what the world tells us, right? “Don’t just do more, be more.”
There’s a bit of a suffocating pressure that I think most of us are feeling in these long, hard, often painful days. It seems the more time ticks along and society “progresses”, the more we’re overwhelmed. As believers, we know we’re supposed to think and behave differently than our counterparts. But do we know what that actually looks like in practice?
I think it may look a bit like that daffodil petal, refusing to fear the snow because even though it cannot feel the heat from the sun, it knows it’s time. The days are getting longer. Perhaps the days are getting warmer. I don’t know the science of it. I just know that one petal has to go first. This might be stretching it too far, but could this be some of what Jesus is asking his followers to do? Perhaps the question around the narrow gate isn’t so much who will make it in as it is about who is avoiding it? When I reflect on my daily life, it’s not like I’m jumping at opportunities to sacrifice my time and my comforts for the sake of the difficult, narrow way. All this time, I have been ruminating on being good enough to enter the gate, but in reality, I’m often choosing to traipse right down that wide open road. Of course, there is grace in this. And I do receive that. I do not suppose that God is angry that I’m not consistently and joyfully walking through the narrow gate. I do however suppose He wants more for His children. And I guess I also suppose I could be a little more like this daffodil petal, trusting that though the way seems difficult, cold, and unforgiving, things are often not what they seem. You see, though the petal walks the hard, narrow path, it is also the first to find spring.