Strive to enter through the narrow gate.




My dear friends, it's been months since I've written you. It's been a long time! I have to say, I've gone through a tumultuous year. It's been the most tumultuous year I've had in a long time.


There are many times when I've thought, I haven't written in awhile, I should write soon. But every time I actually sat down to write, I just couldn't. When you're going through a series of painful circumstances and phases of healing in between, you don't really have the energy or desire to say anything to anyone.


But today, I felt called to break my silence and share the most recent life lesson I've been learning from all of this craziness.


A Year of Crosses, A Year of Opportunities


It seems this year is the year of crosses for me. This just seems to be the pattern that started at the beginning of this year, with unexpected car accidents, family struggles, and love strifes. It was just one thing after another, after another, etc.


One thing in particular really smashed me. Lol. That saying sounds funny, but that's what it's felt like.


The car accidents.


Thank God I am okay, and no one got hurt in any of these accidents. But it's been tough-- tough emotionally, tough financially. Earlier this year, I got into two accidents.


And then again last week....


It was a silly tiny thing that happened in my apartment parking lot because the parking spots are so insanely tight. I barely touched my neighbor's car when I was pulling in, but it left a mark.


When I got out to look at the damage, it was barely visible. With his car already pretty dirty, he might not have even noticed the scratch. I paced around, trying to decide what to do... should I tell him? Should I leave a note? If I get my insurance involved one more time this year, it would be disastrous. The scratch doesn't look that bad.... maybe he won't even notice.


As I walked back to my apartment and wrestled inside of myself about what to do, I had a moment where I finally turned to God and asked Him what I should do. And without a doubt, very clearly came the words, "Enter the narrow gate."


Enter the narrow gate.


I had always heard this passage in the Bible where the disciples ask Jesus if many will be saved, and Jesus simply replied: "Enter the narrow gate." He does not answer their question of how many will be saved. He just instructs them to strive to enter the narrow gate. I never really knew what that meant, entering the narrow gate. What was the narrow gate? Where do I find this gate? Lol. I want to enter it!


But last week, with that voice in my heart when I asked what I should do, it was revealed to me in a very deep and personal way exactly what entering the narrow gate means. The narrow gate means choosing to do the right thing, even when you could probably get away with doing the wrong thing. It's choosing to do what's right even when it's much easier to do the opposite. It's choosing the hard, but right path.


I did tell my neighbor. And it was hard.


After showing him what happened and then returning to my apartment, I wanted to cry. Actually, I did cry. A lot.


What's wrong with me? Why do I keep getting into accidents? Am I just not able to do life? I just wanted to dig a hole and disappear.


I was talking to my friend about all of this. I told her about how it's been the third accident this year, and how I don't understand why this keeps happening. Is this just my life now? Am I just going to be in accidents every season of my life? I got one in winter, one in spring, and now it's summer. Oh Lord, please not fall.


My friend suggested, "Have you ever prayed about it? Maybe God is trying to tell you something from all these accidents."


Yes, in the past I have wondered why these accidents keep happening. Different thoughts went through my mind. Maybe God is trying to tell me I should move back in with my parents? Maybe I need to move out of LA?


I pondered many reasons why these unfortunate events kept happening, but I had never actually sat down and asked God directly, "God, what are you trying to tell me something through these accidents?"


So that's what I did the next time I went to Mass on Sunday.


It's funny how God truly always answers whenever you intentionally ask Him something. We just so rarely ever do it!


Before Mass began, I prayed silently before God. I told God that I give up. I surrender. Whatever He is trying to tell me from these accidents, I'm open and ready to receive it.


What happened next surprised me.


The second reading of last Sunday was this:


Brothers and sisters,

You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:

"My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord

or lose heart when reproved by him;

for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;

he scourges every son he acknowledges."

Endure your trials as "discipline";

God treats you as sons.

For what "son" is there whom his father does not discipline?

At the time,

all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,

yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness

to those who are trained by it.


So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.

Make straight paths for your feet,

that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.


- Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13



And the Gospel reading right after was this:


Jesus passed through towns and villages,

teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.

Someone asked him,

"Lord, will only a few people be saved?"

He answered them,

"Strive to enter through the narrow gate,

for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter

but will not be strong enough.

After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,

then will you stand outside knocking and saying,

'Lord, open the door for us.'

He will say to you in reply,

'I do not know where you are from.

And you will say,

'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.'

Then he will say to you,

'I do not know where you are from.

Depart from me, all you evildoers!'

And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth

when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

and all the prophets in the kingdom of God

and you yourselves cast out.

And people will come from the east and the west

and from the north and the south

and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.

For behold, some are last who will be first,

and some are first who will be last."


-Luke 13:22-30



I was shocked. What a confirmation of what He had spoken to me just a few days before!


I felt God responding to my question so clearly: "Whom the Lord loves, He disciplines... Endure your trials as discipline."


And also: My trials may seem as "a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it."


And again: "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but not be strong enough."


I thought that was interesting, how Jesus ended His sentence.


Many will attempt to enter but not be strong enough.


My friends, this is the message I feel God is calling me to bring to you. Many will attempt to enter but not be strong enough. With every trial, God is training you to be strong enough. You are lifting spiritual weights! He wants to make you strong enough to enter the narrow gate! What a loving God. What a blessing.


A God who looks after us and gives us the small trials now so that we can really endure the big ones that actually matter later.


How will we endure in the future if we don't choose the narrow path now when it is less hard?


When it's easier to not give a smile to that person you don't like, go ahead and offer them a smile.


When losing your temper feels like the natural response, go ahead and make an effort to choose patience instead.


When you accidentally scratch someone's car and might be able to get away with it, leave a note anyway.


Let's see these moments of difficult decisions as precious opportunities God gives us to strive to enter through the narrow gate. They are not easy, but when we allow God to train us by them, we will soon find peace. He will heal our wounds. He will make us stronger.


I hope that after reading this post, you can look at your trials a little differently this week. Not as a nuisance but as a chance to answer a very special call. The call to strive to enter through the Narrow Gate.



Sending you all my love,


Stephanie





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