Imagine this:

A lonely traveller walks down a long path until he comes to a fork in the road. The path to the left is narrow and winding, while the path to the right is wide, flat and seemingly smooth. The man tightly grips the suitcases in his hands, adjusts the bags on his shoulders and the load around his neck. To the passers-by he looks weighed down and worn out – burdened even – yet he hardly seems to notice the weight of his own load. He’s become accustomed to the baggage after carrying it around for all this time. By now, it is a part of him.

Over time he became comfortable with the lies, adultery, greed, stealing, lust and homosexuality that he carries in the bags over his shoulders. Eventually he grew tolerant of his soul hurts and issues burying them deep in the depths of each suitcase, not even noticing that he was still carrying them around. The weight of unforgiveness around his neck has been there for so long his posture is distorted, making him hunch forward instead of standing straight, and the shackles of envy and guilt grow tighter around his ankles with each step.

Yet he does nothing to lighten his load. He has learned to live with it, to cope, to find solace in the things that bring temporary relief and to ignore it when even drugs and alcohol don’t bring him peace. He has learned to dread the moments when the familiar weight of it all comes crashing back down on his fragile body. With each passing day and year as a new weight is added or an old weight grows heavier, he merely adjusts the straps and keeps on moving. It’s like they aren’t even there.

He ponders the fork in the road before him, looking wearily up to the signs pointing left and right. A feeling of deja vu washes over him. He’s been here before standing at the crossroads, feeling the heaviness of a major life decision rest upon his already tired shoulders. He looks longingly in the direction of the narrow road, staring at the contented smiles of those who walk past him heading in that direction. He’s always wanted to walk the narrow road, to know its twists and turns, to know the solace that those who chose that path seem to feel. He’s always felt a tugging in that direction yet somehow he can never seem to fit through the narrow gate….and he can’t figure out why. Each time he has taken a step or two towards that narrow gate he ends up frustrated and annoyed, wondering why others are able to make it but not him. Perhaps it’s just another one of those unfair things about life, or maybe just maybe the narrow path simply isn’t meant for him.

He tries to kick the signpost in frustration but the shackles of guilt around his right ankle make it difficult and he lets out a cry of pain. At every crossroad in his life, he chose the wide path because it seemed a whole lot less…PAINFUL. There would be no squeezing and adjusting necessary. He could walk through the wide gate just as he was, with all his baggage intact. His baggage was his life, and he couldn’t move forward without it. Could he even imagine life without it? Did he want to?

He adjusted his grip around the suitcases once again and turned to face the right path. People were rushing past him in droves, as fast as they could with their own baggage and weight. He saw several familiar faces, smiling neighbours and waving friends who earnestly beckoned him to join them. By now he was something of a celebrity to them as he had spent almost his entire life living as he pleased, answering to no one and surrounded by fame and fortune. As he made a step in their direction he got a glimpse of the glee in their smiles but also noticed the sorrow in their eyes. He stopped in his tracks.

How long must I do this? How many times do I have to be back and forth in this valley of decision?

He knew all to well what the wide path had to offer, he had taken that route many times. It had offered him many joyful memories shared with beloved friends, many opportunities for fame and success, many wild nights with beautiful women and other countless stories to tell. Yet along the journey he had also known much sorrow and anguish, and each time he ended up with heavier weights and deeper pain. He winced and rubbed his neck, remembering all to well the last time he had chosen to live the high life in exchange for peace and true joy. Deep down he was miserable and worn out. In a sudden movement he turned around to face the narrow gate again and one of the suitcases slapped him hard in his kneecap. He dropped the suitcase in an instant, cursing aloud and rubbed the bruised knee. But with tears in his eyes he knew he had to pick it back up again. It was his penance for the many poor decisions he had made in his life and the many times he had taken the wide path without a second thought. He walked towards the narrow gate and peered through the bars. The road seemed lonely, there was no pomp and circumstance that usually surrounded the wide gate. No strobe lights and fanfare. Just peace and quiet.

He stood there for what seemed like hours, his face firmly plastered against the gate which he had no idea how to open or get through. This time he wanted to follow the voice that constantly tugged at his heart. Tears rolled down his cheeks.

God, I have to be here. I have to get here somehow. I just don’t know how.

A crisp, gentle breeze brushed against his cheek, drying some of his tears with its gusty wind. He closed his eyes and paused to take in its inviting pleasant fragrance, allowing it to restore his tired soul. Suddenly from behind his eyelids he could sense a brilliant light. He closed his eyes even tighter now yet the brilliance of the light seemed to sear through his very eyelids and pierce his eyes. In a moment the light dimmed and he begun to open his eyes. He hadn’t even realised that he had dropped to his knees. As he looked up he saw a man with glowing features gazing at him with the most brilliant look of adoration in his eyes. He stared in wonder back at the man who stood with fiery eyes that seemed to pierce through to his very soul. He tried to stop staring back at the man for his gaze was so piercing, so fierce yet inviting – but he couldn’t. Whoever this man was he could see through to the deepest darkest parts of him, leaving him vulnerable and exposed. Feebly he asked, “Do you know the way in?”

The man with the fiery eyes smiled and whispered, his voice like the crash of mighty ocean waves, “I AM the way.”

The traveller looked puzzled for a moment, his brow creased. Then in an instant he knew, the all-too-familiar stories he had heard long ago. “But how?” he asked.

He suddenly became aware of the heavy weights on his shoulders, “How can I get through with all these heavy bags? How can YOU get them off me and get me in?”

“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart and you will find rest for your soul. For My yolk is easy and My burden is light,” was the reply.

This man must be crazy…a process made to seem so simple, yet it will cost me my life.

“How do I know I’ll survive the process…my burdens have become a part of me. What will my life be without them? They have become…who I am.”

“If you confess your sins, I am faithful and just to forgive your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.”

I can’t.

“But they’ve been hidden in my heart for so long…it’s too painful.”

“You do not have to hold on to past hurts in order to maintain your identity. They may have been a part of your past, a part of your story, but your identity is found in Me, your maker. Yes, it will be painful to let go of the sin and hurt that have become a part of you, but my strength is made perfect in your weakness. I will never leave you nor forsake you, and I promise to provide healing for every hurt and hold your hand as you recover. When you accept me, it is no longer you who live, but I who lives in you. So you will live in this earthly body but trusting in Me, the Son of God, who loved you and gave His life for you.”

The traveller stood silent, hesitating for a moment. Yet deep in his heart there was an overpowering sense of joy and relief. His body was tired and exhausted from the weight that had built up over the years and his feet were sore and bruised from his constant wandering in search of peace.

Yes.

He allowed Him to cut…to trim, sever every inch of baggage – the suitcases were gone, the shackles were removed and the bags and weights all disappeared. Still gazing into the lovestruck eyes of the man before him he felt whole, relieved, free. The sores on his feet were healed, the callouses on his hands from carrying heavy bags all these years disappeared and soft new skin grew back in its place. Finally he felt his back straighten and he was able to stand tall and unashamed, a changed man.

Tears flowed freely from his eyes as he surrendered all the hurt, pain and disappointments of his former life in the hands of his Saviour and King. He stood there speechless yet his heart was full and abounding with joy.

Jesus I believe that you are God. I believe that you were raised from the dead and that you are Lord of all.  I believe that You will maintain Your promise of sustaining me, and walking with me along the road ahead.

The traveller stood, letting the promises of God fill his heart and flood his soul. With his gaze set on Christ, destiny was fulfilled in that very moment as he chose to accept the calling that had long been on his life, to walk the narrow road…burdenless.

Then Jesus reached out his hand and said, “Come”.

The traveller wasted no time – he ran as fast as he could, as fast as his feet would carry him. He linked arm in arm with Jesus and, taking a quick glance at the narrow gate now far behind him, began his journey down the narrow road that in his heart he had wanted to travel for so long.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.  –  Ephesians 1:7

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

By Liana Hallett & Danielle Thorpe

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