Loneliness isn’t fun.
No one told me that the “strait and narrow” way could also be the “strait, narrow, and sometimes, very lonely” way.
Matthew 7:14 tells us, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The verse before that explains that most people choose the wide gate with the broad way. Matt. 7:13 states, “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.”
So let me see if I’m getting this correctly. I’m supposed to go into the strait (or small) gate, and take the path “less traveled” so to speak, even though most everyone else is going to choose the larger gate, with the more attractive, wider and broader, more spacious way? Hmm… Sounds.. well, lonely.
Loneliness is not something the average person envisions as part of a Christian’s life, but it’s pretty common. Lots of Christians feel it throughout their lives, and I’m not just talking about the loneliness felt after the loss of a loved one or the emptiness that consumes you after your last child goes off to college. I’m talking about loneliness that occurs when friends and/or family members choose to fall away or get off-track in their Christian walk of life, and you are left “alone” on the strait and narrow way.
Don’t get me wrong- at some point, many of us stray from the strait and narrow way. Some briefly choose to wander, quickly returning through repentance and prayer. Others waste years at a time living in sin, even though they once were faithful to God’s Law. The Bible clearly warns against living in disobedience, even for a short time.
Revelations 2: 4-5 says, “Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
SO WHAT ABOUT THOSE OF US WHO ARE LEFT ON THE STRAIT AND NARROW WAY “ALONE”?
We have to change our perspective.
Any other Harry Potter fans out there? Well, I’m borderline groupie when it comes to the Harry Potter series (shocking, I know). And just let me go ahead and say, I do not believe in witchcraft, and I do not sit in my bedroom and attempt to make items actually levitate or practice transfiguring myself into a cat. I believe whole-heartedly that the Bible clearly denounces sorcery, witchcraft, and the like. (See Galatians 5:20, Acts 8, Rev. 9:21). But, I do enjoy them as works of literary genius, in the same way that I enjoy other works of fiction. But that’s another blog for another day.
Back to my point: in one of the Harry Potter books, Harry’s friend, Luna Lovegood, is offering Harry encouragement in his seemingly desperate and hopeless struggle to defeat the book’s villian, Voldemort. Harry feels very lonely in his fight against evil. She tells him that if she were Voldemort, she would want him to feel lonely, too. If he felt lonely, he would feel weak, and therefore, less likely to defeat him.
Sometimes, I see the same parallel in my Christian life. The devil is the master deceiver, and often makes me feel lonely, even when I’m surrounded by other faithful Christians. He points out my one true friend, who I usually rely on to help encourage me to stay faithful, as she begins to struggle with church attendance. Or he makes a point to make me hear when someone says, “She thinks she’s just better than everybody else” instead of the kind sister who says, “I know it’s hard when she’s the only one saying ‘no’, but I admire her courage”.
The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
We shouldn’t deceive ourselves, we are never alone. Even if everyone we know becomes unfaithful, still, we are not alone.
Psalm 73:23 says, “Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.”
God is always with us. His Word is always with us. We must keep our eyes on the goal and realize that all our struggles in this world are temporary. The Devil is a “sly old fox”, as my children sing in Bible class, and is constantly trying to find ways to isolate us, make us feel lonely and weak, and ultimately, keep us out of Heaven. But if we put on the “whole armor of God” as in Ephesians 6, we will be equipped for victory.
What about our friends/family members that took the wrong exit?
Do we sit idly by and let them get further and further from God? No. The Bible teaches us that we have a responsibility to “exhort one another” to prevent us from being “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). We are commanded to “consider one another to provoke unto love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
The way I see it, if we keep ourselves busy encouraging each other to remain faithful, we don’t have time to be lonely. My mom and dad used to tell us we had the “can’t-help-its” when we were feeling sorry for ourselves. Sometimes I need to be reminded that I actually can “help it”.
So, to wrap it up, remember those gates? What did the Bible say they lead to? The strait (or small) gate leads to life. The wide gate leads to destruction. What is your destination?