I knew of the narrow road growing up as I heard about it in church as well as from my mother and stepfather. For a period of time in my youth I did try following it. However, it is really hard to follow people that were talking about walking on the narrow path to the gate way of life when their actions were that of spiritual death. In other words, when my mother and stepfather, yes even my pastor, were going to church and wearing the clothes of the perfect and righteous Christians on Sundays and Wednesday, then were going home abusing their families behind closed doors and keeping secrets from the congregation, it’s pretty hard to follow a hypocritical path. The old saying “do as I say not as I do” is one that needs to be removed from everyone’s vocabulary.
I did follow the narrow road to the gateway of life for a short period of time as a teenager. However, as a teenager and young adult who had no solid and true guidance in life, I was curious what life was really all about. The narrow road to me appeared to have to many rules, to many do’s and don’ts. People, not God, I know today are the ones that impose those rules, the do’s and don’ts. Because of the hypocrisy I was experiencing in our church and my family, I started looking for other means of truth. Other means to learn about and enjoy life. People that were walking the broad highway to hell appeared to be enjoying life on a whole different level. Let’s be real here, there are truly many more people walking on the broad road than the narrow road. My perception of those people was that they were succeeding in life at a much higher level. They seemed much happier than those I observed walking the narrow path. With no tangible proof that the narrow road was a better road to walk, seeing that so many more people were walking the broad path, I decided to join those traveling the broad road.
At first, for many years the broad road appeared to be everything I had hoped for. I was finally accepted and not judged by my peers. I felt like I no longer had to get others approval, at least it seemed that way. Even under my perception of acceptance I felt out of place. When I turned eighteen and moved out of my house, I was able to drink, drug, and hang out with girls “I” chose to be with. Understand that I have worked since the age of fifteen. In my forty-year career working in the construction field, I have only worked for three different companies. One of those being the company I built over a twenty-one-year period. I never was without a job for more than a week. I was what you call a high functioning alcoholic.
While traveling on the broad road to hell, I started associating with men that were successful in the business I wanted to make my career in– construction. The issue at that point in my life was that being successful meant owning a big company and making a lot of money. It is true, that is one definition of success, however there is so much more. In many ways following the direction of these men was beneficial. Remember, some believe there is a yen & yang, a good & bad in everything. To me the reality is, there is neither yin & yang or good & bad, there just “is.” If we look at everything we’ve been through, everything we’ve experienced as a life lesson and every person that crosses our path, rather for a second, minute, hour, day, month, year or season as a teacher, I believe we would be much better people. Not only did the men I looked up to during my journey through life help me learn how to work hard and become a better business man, well to some extent, they also taught me how to drink, be selfish, lie to my wife, cheat on my wife and live a self-centered life. This may sound funny, but I’m grateful for those lessons. Eventually, God put up a big yellow caution sign right in the middle of this big broad road that seemed so easy and so much better to travel on. It was time to change.
There was a moment in time when I was standing still and all alone in the middle of that big broad road. It seemed as though life was happening all around me, very fast. Everything was a whirlwind, a blur. My so-called friends had gone ahead of me without so much of a glance back to see what happened to me or where I had gone. Their true colors were showing. I didn’t have what they needed any more or didn’t fit into their agenda anymore. But then again neither did they have anything I wanted or needed out of life anymore. I revisited that long and wide road I had been on for thirty-five plus years, going all the way back to when I first began the journey. I saw the good that it taught me. I also saw all the bad that I had learned. All the chaos I had created. The destruction my tornado of self-will run wild left in my path. What had I done?
Then I looked at how even in my darkest moments of being abused as a child, teenager, and young adult, God really was with me. He saved me from death at times I was being beaten so severely that it brought me to the edge of death. In fact, the beatings did assassinate me spiritually. Then I looked backed and saw that how even on the broad road that “I” chose to travel down, God indeed was truly the only one watching my back. ….he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
In my times of trouble who would I reach to? God, the God I believed hated me. Yet every time I reached out to him, he was there and saved me from certain death and institution. As I stood frozen in the center of the broad road that was leading me to hell, it became obvious I had to make a choice – continue down the broad road that would lead me to a path of certain calamity and destruction, or exit it immediately and start looking at the narrow path that leads to the gates of heaven. The choice had become very obvious to me.
As I started down the narrow path that leads us to the gates of heaven, I realized exactly how hard and challenging this road was going to be. The difference this time was I had a community of people that were literally showing me how to walk it by their own actions. I had two mentors that loved me back to life. They not only taught me, but they showed me what Gods love was through their actions. Never judging me. Never scolding me. Never beating me down. All they did is what Jesus would have done, they walked with me through the valley of death, through hell to the other side. Their actions are what led me back to God. However, I still had a black cloud over my head when it came to the church.
On that broad road I was walking, church had never been a part of my family’s life. It had been thirty-seven years since I had been to church for anything other than a wedding or funeral. I had finally got right with others, myself, and God and my life was just grand thank you very much. Why would I ever want to go back to church where hypocritical people were just waiting to judge me and put me down. At least that was my perception of what would happen.
My wife went to a Christmas Service at Destiny Church in Indio in December 2011 with a coworker of hers. She came home and told me how great the church was. Her words were and I quote – “a lot of people have tattoos and are wearing shorts and flipflops. It’s like a big Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and the pastor teaches instead of preaching.” Well I said, that’s all fine and dandy, however I’m not going to church. It was Wednesday night in August 2012, when my wife got home from work, I asked her if she wanted to go to church. She about fell over backwards and then excitingly said yes, lets go. She reminded me that my shorts and sandals would be good to wear. My life forever changed that night.
We went to church every Sunday and Wednesday. Believe me, I wanted to run many times. Something kept me there. It was like the hand of God was on my back as he whispered in my ear, telling me you’re okay, I have your back. As time passed the narrow road, I had now been on for five or six years, suddenly was getting narrower. With each passing year God would lay new ministries in front of me. First it was putting me into the Ministry Leader position for Celebrate Recovery. Often, I felt I was being choked out by the narrow road that led to heaven. Then came the Ministry Leader position over Freedom Groups. With that a level of spiritual warfare ensued that I had never experienced in my life. Again, there have been plenty times I have just wanted to run as the Spiritual Warfare ensued at even deeper levels. Then being ordained as a pastor with my wife and overseeing the recovery and healing ministries, the road just kept getting narrower and narrower.
I will tell you that I often look back at that wide road I once traveled with all the money I was making. All the fun I was having. All the traveling I was doing and wonder, what if? Then God taps me on the shoulder and wakes me up to the reality of that road. He shows me the other side of the cocktail glass. He shows me that the only reason the grass on the other side of the fence looked greener is because I was not watering mine. He reminds me of all the things he has done and continues to do for me. He reminds me that he is always with me, even when I feel he is not. Yes, I look back at the old road I was once on. I do it today only to remind myself of how bad it turned out. So yes, the narrow road that leads to the gates of heaven keeps getting smaller and smaller. However, with that, my life keeps getting better and better. I can only imagine how God will continue bless my wife and I as long as we do not stray. As hard as this journey is, it is only hard, not bad. Whereas the wide road at best in reality was dangerous, hard, and bad. I urge you sit back, lean on God and enjoy the adventure. It’s exciting.