I have a friend whose son has been struggling with depression, wondering, “What’s the point of living?” He is in the hospital tonight with pneumonia, probably a side effect of his heroin use. I ask that you take the time this very moment to pray for Nick.
It would be easy to become depressed wandering through life not knowing God. Loving God creates purpose. How do we love Him? Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:15, 21)
When the religious leaders asked, “Which is the greatest commandment?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Somewhere along the way, Nick chose the world over God. Haven’t we all at some point in our lives? God had a purpose for Nick, a plan for him to follow, opportunities for him to glorify God and grow spiritually. Nick asked God to step aside as he chose another path, and God graciously obliged. He will not force His will, it is our choice.
Matthew 7:13-14 says, “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.”
Nick chose the easy, wide open road full of neon signs promising whatever self-indulgent craving a particular soul is after. God’s narrow gate was there, without signage, but there. God let Nick choose. But, God has not given up on Nick, His plan awaits. Nick needs only to choose the narrow path.
“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.” – C.S. Lewis
When we’re faced with a fork in the road, there are many factors that influence the direction we choose. Fear can freeze me at an intersection. In Matthew 12:30 Jesus said, ““Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” I must choose to ignore my fears, trusting God to overcome them. If I’m not traveling the narrow road then I’m on the broad road, there is no other choice.
Peer pressure, fear of what others with think, feeling unworthy or unqualified, fearing the commitment required, or the bad habits I’ll need to drop – are all excuses to keep me from following God. Once I choose the wrong road I pick up speed, falling in with others who’ve also chosen poorly. Misery loves company. Turning into the narrow gate now become messy, there’s lots of traffic to navigate in order to reach that exit. Do others I’m traveling with realize they’re on the wrong path? Do they know there’s a narrow gate just ahead? Moving in that direction, away from the crowd, will draw attention. What will they think?
Occasionally fellow travelers are as miserable as I am. They’re looking for a way out and are so thankful when someone takes the lead and changes course. Others may ridicule my decision. Even if it feels like I’m traveling alone, that is never the case. If I turn to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and mind, whether I see it or not, I can trust that I’ve got a crowd in heaven cheering me on!
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:4-7
My heart is heavy for Nick and his family. His future is up to him. God is standing at the narrow gate, holding it open for Nick. I am praying that Nick has had enough of the highway and its empty promises. I’m praying he will veer toward the open gate just ahead. I’m praying that, by the power of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross for our sins and Nicks, God will silence the enemy and bind him and his army from deceiving Nick any longer.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16