Something has spoken to me in the night…and told me that I shall one day die, I know not where. Saying: “[Death is] to lose the earth you know for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.” – Thomas Wolfe
Hmmm. Through the door of death we will find greater knowledge, greater life, and greater love. A land that is more kind then our home and bigger than all the earth. Really? Is this true? We’ll get back to that thought shortly.
It’s late morning and 83 °f here at the Sponge Docks on the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs, Florida. I’ve been watching a shrimp boat that just returned from a three week run in the Gulf being tied up to the pilings. The winter “season” in the land of palm trees and sunshine is in full swing, so the multitudes are lively and loud, milling about the streets and filling the restaurants, gift shops and bars. Me? I’m daydreaming in my seat by the water. It’s New Year’s Eve and I find myself mentally revisiting days long gone but not forgotten.
I once knew a young boy who was just about as carefree as youthful innocence permits. The world was his oyster and by sheer resolve he was determined to pry it open – a thousand times if necessary – to find his “pearl” of fortune, fame and significance. But everyday life, with all of its inequitableness and malice, fought back. And so it was that the toll of living eventually broke his heart, leaving him cynical, sometimes angry, or if nothing else, growing older and wearier with each passing season. Who was this poor mortal? It could be anyone of us, I suppose. But once upon a time long ago, it was me.
One never knows when it will happen; that instant when you see the world with such a crystal clarity that you are left much sadder and yet wiser for the awareness you have gained. And the worst part of it all, you can never go back to the innocence of not knowing what you have now learned. Sad, so sad. But in the circle of life, as painful as it may be, we call these moments growing up.
When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The very first day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.” – Patrick Rothfuss
I remember when the Spirit of the Almighty first got my attention. Initially I resisted, being a young man who looked to science and education for answers. Religious fanatics parroting words that they could neither adequately explain nor exemplify in their own lives had always repulsed me. Please God, talk to someone else. But, He would not leave me alone. He made sure I heard things like,
36-38 “The man who tries to save his own life will lose it… What good can it do a man to gain the whole world at the price of his own soul? What can a man offer to buy back his soul once he has lost it?” (Excerpted from Mark 8:36-38 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)
“God”, I thought to myself, “just let me be.” But he would broker no denial. There was a testimony that I needed to hear; a message that spoke of a mysterious rescue mission motivated by a Divine love for a stranded people living on a doomed planet. The communique’ from another world revealed a liberator named Jesus who desired to save all who would answer His call. It warned of the pervasive God haters who would continue to contest His very existence as they attempted to bring a Babylonian (Humanistic) global order to their dying Utopian dreams. But, this life-giving message also contained a comforting reassurance that the arrogance of mankind’s wickedness would never topple the providence of an Almighty God.
And that my dear friends brings me back to the words of Thomas Wolfe who spoke of death as a doorway to a much better place than life here on spaceship earth. Whether or not Mr. Wolfe new it, he had stumbled upon an absolute truth. Death is indeed an entrance. Find the right door, cross its wondrous threshold and you will pass into an even greater life; one that is full of timeless knowledge and absolute love.
Whenever I hear the droning cacophony of mere human opinion regarding “pathways” to God, I think about these words spoken by the Creator Himself,
13 “There are two paths before you; you may take only one path. One doorway is narrow. And one door is wide. Go through the narrow door. For the wide door leads to a wide path, and the wide path is broad; the wide, broad path is easy, and the wide, broad, easy path has many, many people on it; but the wide, broad, easy, crowded path leads to death. 14 Now then that narrow door leads to a narrow road that in turn leads to life. It is hard to find that road. Not many people manage it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 – The Voice)
Is that so hard to understand? There are just two paths before us. But, we only get to travel on one. Every human being will determine their ultimate (eternal) destiny by the singular and specific spiritual path they choose to follow. And remember, a failure to make a choice is a choice.
In describing the wide door, Jesus said,
“…the wide door leads to a wide path, and the wide path is broad; the wide, broad path is easy, and the wide, broad, easy path has many, many people on it.”
Hey, that sounds cool to me. A big attractive door that opens up to reveal a substantial road that is accommodating, easy to travel and filled with all kinds of interesting people – I’m down for that!
But… that is not the door He tells us to choose. Jesus said we’re to go through the narrow door. And, it was not a suggestion.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I… I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
Of course there are reasons why He said to choose the narrow door. First, the big attractive door that opens up to reveal a road that is very large, accommodating, filled with the “in crowd” and easy to travel – leads to destruction. The big door and the big road are a BIG mistake!
Jesus said of the narrow door,
“…the narrow door leads to a narrow road that in turn leads to a real life. It is hard to find that road.”
We are to seek the narrow doorway. Why? Because that’s the right choice. No further explanation is necessary. If you really want to find the Divine Spirit, the Supreme Being, the Almighty or whatever name you may have heard Him called, the Liberator Jesus said that He is the only door through which you gain access to the road that leads to a timeless afterlife with God. No, it’s neither tolerant nor politically correct. Do you want to argue with our Creator about it? Here is what He said,
7 …“For sure, I tell you, I am the Door of the sheep. 8 All others who came ahead of Me are men who steal and rob. The sheep did not obey them. 9 I am the Door. Anyone who goes in through Me will be saved from the punishment of sin. He will go in and out and find food. 10 The robber comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I came so they might have life, a great full life. (John 10:7-10)
Not to put too fine a point on this but, again, according to Jesus,
6-7 “I myself am the road…and the truth and the life. No one approaches the Father except through me. If you had known who I am, you would have known my Father. From now on, you do know him and you have seen him.” (John 14:6-7 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)
Think of it like this, God’s way on God’s terms = God’s Life. You don’t get to pick your own version of the Truth.
Right now, you might be standing at a fork in the road. Do nothing, and you’ll just keep drifting along the wide, broad, easy, crowded path that leads to destruction, or choose to make a change by passing through that narrow gate (which we now know as the “Jesus” door) and begin to follow the road less traveled. The decision here is simple. No confusion. No overload. Choose his way and gain a timeless life, filled with inner joy and peace. Or just keep rolling the dice and doing things your way. It’s your life, your decision, but I do hope you choose wisely.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to get back to my daydreams. You know, it’s nice to be free of the demons carried by that disillusioned and cynical young man from the past. And while I sometimes wish I could go back to the innocence of youth, I am glad to be at peace within myself and with my Creator. Sure, life is still hard sometimes, but God is always there to help me cope.
Happy New Year! – Happy New YOU!
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656