Matthew 7:13-14 (New International Version)
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Marisa was a stubborn creature. As a child, when the neighborhood boys told her to go away, telling her she could not play rough and tumble sports because she was a girl, she was determined to prove them wrong. Prove them wrong she did, and it was not long before Marisa gained a reputation of being a "Tomboy," you know, the old fashioned phrase folks used long ago to describe a girl who acted more like a boy.
Through adulthood, this stubborn, independent, and determined streak carried Marisa through many a difficult situation in and out of the workforce, but sadly, from a spiritual perspective, it was a thorn in Marisa's side as she often struggled between God's will and her own.
Never was this so evident than when Marisa, now a longtime married woman, found her self sitting in a counselor's office pouring out her soul when asked to tell why her marriage was failing.
"When Adam and I first married, we were so happily in love, and boy, did it show!" replied Marisa, her eyes seeming to twinkle in delight at reflecting back on a better time. "I don't know how or why, but I just was no longer filled in my marriage. There was an unexplainable emptiness that I wrongly presumed was due to a dying love," she continued. "I would look at Adam, and no longer did my heart pound with excitement. I wanted the passion, romance and thrill of love we once had, and it seemed nowhere to be found." "How did you resolve that?" asked the counselor.
Marisa replied, "Even though I knew through my Christian upbringing that I should cleave to God, I took it upon myself to try to solve the matter in my own ways, rather than God's ways."
"What happened then?" asked the marriage counselor.
"A path of personal and spiritual destruction. Of course, I didn't see that then, but I see it all so clearly now," replied Marisa as she looked down to the floor in shame.
"I did everything to fill that void; drinking, abuse of prescription drugs, got involved in hobbies that pulled me further away from God, and what I'm most embarrassed about, I had an affair."
"Did these resolutions help?" asked the counselor knowingly.
Marisa continued, "They only made matters worse. Much worse. Not only were they temporary band-Aids, but they left me feeling emotionally, physically, and spiritually ill. The guilt and shame I carried around soon became heavier than my actual marriage problem, and that is why I finally dropped it, and why I am now here."
What the woman in this story learned the hard way is that, in life, the roads we are offered are very clear. There is the right way, and the wrong way. God's path of righteousness, or own path which is typically filled with temporary human resolutions that can never be as satisfying and fulfilling as the truth and all-encompassing love of our Creator. What Marisa perceived as a lack of love in her marriage, was actually just a marriage that needed a jolt of life blood; the hard work of two people who need to make and create the intimacy Marisa so missed in her relationship with Adam. Even greater than this need, was Marisa's hunger to be fully loved and accepted in a way no mere human could possibly do. Why? Because, as Marisa finally learned, this place in her being was empty due to her own neglect of her spiritual relationship with God.
In time, Marisa and Adam began praying and playing together again as a family. The dark cloud of shame that hung over Marisa's head from her destructive behaviors was removed after she offered God her sincere repentance from her past sins. For so long, Marisa had been fighting God and her marriage, and now it was time to end the war.
As you read this message, can you think of ways in your own life that you are not going down the path God wishes you to, but you are instead taking a detour which will result in a dead end? Now is the time to follow Marisa's example, and to know that God is not here to condemn you, but to love you.
Dear Lord we pray that we would stay on the path that you have for each of us to follow. In Jesus’ name, Amen.