Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Jeannette Haley

Besides daffodils and crocuses, the one thing a person can always be assured of, as winter melts into spring, is road construction. It doesn’t matter which town you live in, or which road you travel on, sooner or later your eye will catch the unmistakable bright orange associated with road crews.  You will probably make a mental note to take an alternate route next time.

Concerning roads, Jesus talked about two of them. Every person on earth is traveling on either one or the other. Here’s how He described each road: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” Matthew 7:13, 14.

Road construction can also take place in a spiritual sense. Take, for example, Joseph (Joe) who works for the Straightway Road Construction Company, and JD who works for the Broadway Road Company. One bright afternoon JD stopped to pay a visit to Joe.

“Hey, Buddy,” JD grinned broadly. “How’s construction going?”

Joe, who was busy with a survey crew, glanced over at his visitor. “Hi, JD. What can I do for you?”

“Oh, nuthin,’” JD said. He squinted at Joe from under his hard hat. “It looks to me like your survey boys are making the road too narrow. You should come and see my road construction crew. We started out with the same narrow road, but little by little we’ve broadened it quite a bit. That way it can accommodate more people, and we’ve even built little detours along the way where folks can swing off the highway and enjoy different experiences.”

Joe’s gray eyes grew somber. “Is that so,” he said in a hushed voice.

JD’s lips curled into a half grin. “Yeah, it’s quite the road. You’d do better if you’d construct a broader highway that people could enjoy. After all, it can be a long, tiring journey to the Great City. Why not let people enjoy the ride?” He threw back his head and roared with laughter.

Joe frowned. He didn’t like the direction this conversation was going. “Sorry, JD, but I can’t stand around talking. I have work to do.” He turned to go, but felt a restraining hand on his shoulder.

“Aw, come on, Joe!” JD bellowed. “Don’t be such a pin head.”

Joe’s jaw tightened and he felt his face grow hot. But, he resisted the urge to punch JD in the mouth. He took a deep breath instead, and calmly said, “Look JD, I have my orders, and I’m following them. The Boss’s son is in charge of this road, and I plan to see to it that his orders are carried out fully. If he says this road is to be straight and narrow, then that’s the way it’s going to be.”

JD took a step backward, his dark eyes flashing angrily.  “Well, if that’s the way you want it. But, I’m telling you right now and I know this from experience, that most of your crew is going to give up and come work for me before that road reaches completion!” With that he spun around and clumped back to his pickup.

Joe watched as JD slammed his truck into gear and roared off in a cloud of dust. “I hope you never come back,” he whispered under his breath, but deep inside he knew that that wasn’t the last he would see of JD.

Several months passed. Sometimes Joe grew weary with the task before him. Constructing such a straight and narrow road was painstaking. Great attention had to be paid to every detail to ensure that it was laid out exactly as the Boss’s son had instructed.

One windy afternoon, as Joe was laboring to remove an enormous boulder from the center of the road, he spotted JD’s pickup roaring toward him. Wiping his forehead with the back of his sleeve, he groaned, “Oh no! Not today! Lord have mercy!”

Sitting behind the wheel of his dirty truck, JD blasted his horn, and motioned for Joe. “Oh, God! Why today, of all days does he have to show up?” Joe muttered through gritted teeth. “You know how weary I am and how weak I feel. You are going to have to carry me through this. If I ignore him, he’s just going to sit there and blast his horn all day.” He tossed aside his pickax and made his way through the blowing sand and dirt to JD’s truck.

“Hey, Buddy, hop in. It looks like you can use a break.”

Just then a huge gust of wind slammed Joe against the door of the pickup. Sand and dirt stung his eyes. Groping for the handle, he hurriedly opened the truck and slid on to the worn seat. Trying to catch his breath, he sat silently, his eyes closed.

“Here,” JD said as he pressed a dampened towel into Joe’s limp hands.

“Thanks,” Joe muttered weakly. With trembling hands he carefully wiped his eyes and face. For a fraction of a second the urge to give up and give in gripped his heart, but instead a silent prayer rose from deep within his heart: “Not my will, but thine be done.”  He cleared his throat, and sat up straighter. He turned to look at JD.

“Hey, little Buddy,” JD said in a strange voice. “You are really taking a beating out there on that straight, narrow road of yours.” His eyes glinted strangely.

Joe squirmed uncomfortably. He reached for the truck handle, but withdrew his hand when the howling wind slammed a river of dirt against the vehicle, rocking it violently. Suddenly Joe felt like a worm about to be devoured by a ravenous bird.

A wicked smile played on JD’s lips, but his voice was soft. Sweet, even. Joe looked at him curiously. “I brought something for you to see.” He reached under the seat and pulled out a large binder. Joe could see that, among other things, it contained photographs and maps. “I thought you’d like to see how far we’ve come on the broad highway. It’s absolutely wonderful! People are already traveling on it, even though we’re not quite finished, and they love it. They are so excited that they are spreading the news to others. In fact, there are millionstraveling the Broadway highway.” JD chuckled, and laid the open notebook in Joe’s lap.

Everything inside of Joe wanted to toss the notebook out the window, but the storm had turned even uglier. It was as if the whole world had been plunged into a thick, black pit of thunder and lightning. Hail pounded the truck in a deafening assault. Joe fought in vain against the urge to look at the notebook, but his eyes, as if they had a mind of their own, fixed on the glowing images. It was the most beautiful highway Joe had ever seen. Everything that could please the eyes and the senses reflected along the broad highway as far as one could see in a dazzling array of sensuousness. There was nothing missing of all the riches and pleasures that the world had to offer. It was overwhelming, breathtaking, and strangely compelling. Somewhere in the back of Joe’s mind he faintly heard the words, “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”

Dazed, Joe’s eyes fell on the picture closest to him. His finger traced the outline of the most magnificent church building imaginable. Never had he seen such elegance in a church structure. It was built near the entrance to the broad way. He leaned closer to gain a better view of it, but quickly drew back in horror, for the materials that made up its structure were an abomination to God. From a distance, it looked more beautiful than anything the world had ever seen, but a closer examination revealed the elements of man’s religious traditions, idolatry, immorality, greed, covetousness, pride, wrath, lust and all things contrary to the way, the truth and the life. It promised life, but delivered death. Jesus was not there.

Joe began to tremble. In spite of the raging storm outside, somehow, he must escape from this terrible nightmare. “Hey, Buddy! What’s the matter?” JD’s voice startled Joe back to the present. “Here, look at this page.” JD hastily turned the page. Joe gasped. He could plainly see that the road had been broadened to accommodate a large wedding party. There were thousands, maybe millions, of people there. They all seemed so happy. Again, Joe leaned closer to the picture to study all the details. Surely this broad highway was full of amazing and wonderful things. It all seemed so good, so right. But wait! Who was marrying whom?

Tears pooled in Joe’s eyes as he discerned that this boisterous marriage was all about the marriage of the church to the world. Then the images, that had been cleverly disguised as things to be desired, of things beautiful, came into sharp focus—images of adultery, perversion, and ungodliness. Everything was politically correct, immoral, idolatrous and perverted. Nothing was sacred or holy; absolutely nothing—not the music, not the worship, not the preaching. The Bibles being used were perverted. There were no hymnals. There was no preaching against sin. There was no repentance. Jesus was not there.

“I am leaving!” Joe announced as he fumbled for the door handle. “I have work to do!” Thick darkness pressed against the pickup, threatening to squeeze it and its occupants into a heap of twisted metal. Joe struggled to breathe in the suffocating air. “I..I..” he choked, “I’m leaving…”

“Why?” JD roared. “You are an idiot, Joe! Why do you cling to that stupid, straight, narrow, hard road when you could join us on the broad way and enjoy yourself? What good is it going to do for you to continue on that narrow, straight road? Look what you’re missing! You could have it all. You are a fool to give it all up for that demanding boss of yours, and his son!”

Joe closed his eyes and sat in reflective silence for several moments. Then he slowly reached inside his jacket pocket and carefully removed a picture. “Here’s why,” Joe said in a husky voice as he handed the picture-plan to JD.

JD smirked as he took the picture, but his countenance quickly took on a new expression. Joe studied the kaleidoscope of emotions playing on JD’s features as he stared transfixed at the small picture.  After long moments he growled in a low voice, “You better get out of here!” He tossed the picture at Joe.

Snatching up the precious picture, Joe hurled himself out of the dusty vehicle. Much to his surprise the storm was hastening a quick retreat, pursued by the sun’s golden rays. He heard the roar of JD’s (“Just like Demas,” 2 Timothy 4:10) truck in the distance. Smiling to himself, Joe walked briskly back to the narrow road, and dropped to his knees. “Lord,” he cried, “thank You. Thank You for this . . .”

He held the picture up before his face. “I can see this straight and narrow road, and running parallel to it the broad way.” He lowered the picture. Tears filled his eyes as he ran his finger along the narrow road, tracing it to its final, triumphant destination. “The Door,” Joe whispered reverently. He looked hard at the picture. He could see the narrow Gate and the shape of a cross. Somehow, he could also see the risen Son of God overshadowing the gate, with the nail prints in his hands. Jesus was there.

Joe then somberly traced the path of the broad way to its finish. There was no welcoming gate at the end of this road, but rather a great chasm into which all who traveled upon it descended. Beyond the chasm was a massive stone wall fixed that surrounded the Great City. None of those souls who traveled the broad way could enter therein, but were swallowed up within the great gulf.

“Truly, Lord,” Joe said as he resumed his journey upon the narrow road, “what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his own soul?”

* * * * * * *

My friend, there are only two roads—the narrow road, and the broad road. Which one are you on today?