On January 2nd, Jurie sprinkled the following phrase throughout his sermon: “Narrow places precede wide open spaces,” or alternately, “Wide open spaces are preceded by narrow places.”
When you Google the word “Narrows,” you find worldwide physical examples of just that phenomenon. A “narrows” is literally a skinny space between wider spaces – a harbor entrance, a mountan pass, a strait, a river inlet… any little geographical place that goes between two bigger spaces. The thing about a narrows is that it’s rarely easy to traverse.
Jurie described the gate to the city of Jerusalem called “the eye of the needle,” which was so small that people could only go through single-file, un-laden, and hunched in a vulnerable position. The idea was that after dark, with most of the people in the city sleeping, they didn’t want the big gates of commerce wide open. They wanted to make sure that anyone entering the city couldn’t wreak havoc, either by numbers or by the weapons they carried inside.
Of course, the analogy here is that God has a wide open space for you to walk into, but you’re likely to have to go through a narrows first. And when you’re going through a narrow place, you’re going to have to drop some of the things you’re carrying.
Jesus talked about those burdens we carry:
Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV
This verse has carried me through many narrows. To me “rest for your soul” is just about the biggest and best “wide open space” I could imagine. I’m really good at resting my body, and I have plenty of time and space to do it, but rest for my soul has been harder to come by. It’s not that I don’t have time to find rest for my soul – it’s that I don’t use my time for that purpose. God has given me, “everything [I] need for life and Godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), but that doesn’t mean I always lay claim to that promise. Why? Because to pick it up, I have to drop something else.
During our life group discussion the other night, our leader asked, “What’s the baggage you’re carrying, that if you let go of it, you could make it through this narrow place into the wide open space God has for you in 2022?” It was interesting… each of us had a different answer, “my own expectations of how my ministry should be,” “the stuff I hold onto out of nostalgia,” “distractions,” “the illusion of control,” “comfort.”
Some of us have an identity issue – our “thing” is our professional, personal, or popular identity. Some of us have a “time thing” – we spend more time focused on the shows to watch, games to play, or books to read than on what God would have us focused on. Some of us are possessed by our possessions – we prioritize acquiring and maintaining and storing all of our many earthly treasures, rather than on storing up treasure in Heaven.
So what’s your “thing?” C’mon, be honest… it’s just between you and God right now. What’s your “thing?” If God asked you to let go of something, to free you up for the “more” he has for you in 2022, what would it be? My guess is that He has been talking to you about that “thing” for a long time now. In fact, all of the people at life group the other night said, “Well, every time somebody asks the question, my answer is always the same.”
“There you go again,” you might say, “Christians are always talking about sacrifice.” OK, yes we are, but that doesn’t mean what you think it means. Time and again, the Bible talks about sacrifice, so we do too. After all, Jesus did say, “Take up your cross and follow me” (from Matthew 16:24). But what people miss is that sacrifice isn’t the process of just giving something up. We imagine sacrifice as letting go of something just for the sake of letting it go. What good would that do?
In Christ’s economy, a sacrifice isn’t just a letting go — it’s a trade. Check this out:
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.Matthew 16:25, NKJV
See, right now, your life might feel like a big, open playground where you pretty much get to do whatever you please. Then some Christian comes along and says you have to sacrifice that life in order to live in the fullness of God – a God you may not even know yet. And you think, “Why on earth would I leave this behind? Why should I sacrifice anything?” Here’s the answer:
But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,1 Corinthians 2:9, NKJV
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
In God’s economy love is not transactional. He loves you whether you love Him or not. But sacrifice? Sacrifice is very transactional. On the cross, Jesus made a trade – His life for ours. All He asks is the same sacrifice – your earthly “life” for the fullness of the Life He has prepared for you. I’d say that’s a pretty easy sell.
Do you have a story of life change? We would love to hear it. Let us hear how God is transforming your life and the lives of those around you through the power of Christ. Drop us a line at [email protected] or submit a form using the button below! We’ll get in touch and work with you to share your story.
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