Difficult But Worth It
by Shauna Wallace
We were there to hike, but in the midst of the mountain, God brought His word to life right in front of my eyes and in my heart, and the object lesson He revealed was as incredible as the sights we beheld.
Our family was on vacation in Maui, and my husband and I decided this was the year we would brave the 32-mile winding Road to Hana with our kids. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when the road curves, dips, climbs, and turns with such fierceness that it takes a half- to a full-day to travel, depending on your stops, surviving it is monumental (T-shirt and all!). Add to that my husband’s NASCAR approach to the route, and we were practically kissing the ground when we rolled into the sleepy beachside town of Hana to bunk for the night.
we continued our twisty travels around the island back to our condo, stopping at what one local coconut hut proprietor simply called “W” State Park. (The real name? Wai’anapanapa. The locals don’t even bother pronouncing it!) It is the site of the Seven Sacred Pools and a towering waterfall we were determined to see. Thus, the hike.
We strapped on our Tevas and headed for the trail!
At first, the path was relatively open and flat. Piece of cake!
As we ventured deeper into the forest, the trail became steeper, narrower, and rockier. We carefully considered every step, watching our footing for loose rocks, steep drop-offs, and tree roots bulging across the path.
The more perilous the path, the more we needed the trail markers.
Bright red warning signs demanded our attention as we neared enticing lookouts that promised great reward if you simply veered off the path a bit. But the result could be death.
We kept our kids directly in front of us, watching their steps, slowing them down when they got too far ahead, and shouting warnings when danger lurked around them.
Ironically, the longer we stayed on the path and the more difficult it became, the more incredible the sights, sounds, and experiences: a bamboo forest with towering shoots densely packed into a permanent umbrella of breezy shade. When the wind blew, the stalks knocked together like a musical wind chime.
Bridges spanned gorges with creeks that cascaded into glass-topped pools.
Then, as we stepped out of the bamboo forest, across a rushing creek, and into a clearing, nature opened its arms and lifted its hands high in praise to the glory of God displayed before us: the waterfall.
As we hiked that day, the Lord impressed on me the unmistakable connection to Matthew 7:13-14:
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
The narrow gate is Jesus Christ, who came that we may have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). We enter by placing our faith in Him alone for salvation. He is the only way.
The way is difficult. It can be steep and rocky, but it’s worth it! And God gives us specific directions: the Bible. When we follow the path the Bible sets before us, heeding the trail markers and warning signs, we keep to the narrow path. And we listen to the Holy Spirit, our guide. It’s the only way we’ll experience the overwhelming reward of life in Christ: abundant and eternal. Living water.
Oh, we can know about Jesus and His teachings. We can know about eternal life and living water. We can even do our best to follow rules based on His word. But if we don’t know Him, it’s like looking at pictures and reading about “W” State Park in a magazine or book. In order to experience the beauty and awe, you have to brave the mountain and hike the trail! In order to experience the beauty and awe of life in Christ, we have to brave placing our faith in Him! When we do, He becomes Lord, and we follow Him by doing what He says in His word.
God also showed me that as parents, we need to tell our children about Jesus and entering through the narrow gate. We need to take our kids with us on the difficult path, pointing out the way and the incredible rewards that await them, teaching and instructing them in the word of God so they know how to read the trail markers and warning signs He provides to signal and protect us from deadly turns and fatal cliffs.
We need to show them how to recognize the Holy Spirit and His work in and around them, because one day, they’re going to approach the narrow gate for themselves. I want my children to know how to recognize it, how to enter, and what to do to stay on the path the follows.
Sadly, multitudes reject the narrow road. They find the wide road more palatable. More politically correct. Not as offensive or threatening. Not as lonely. They want the path that feels good now. They want the path that tells them what they want to hear and satisfies their immediate desires. They want the path that leads to life, but they’re satisfied with pictures. They have knowledge of Jesus, but they don’t know Him. They never entered through the narrow gate.
Have you entered the gate? Is the Holy Spirit your trail guide? Do you continually search the Bible as your guide book?
Once we enter, God is faithful to keep us on the path. It will be difficult. There will be hard turns and challenging climbs. It will require constant faith. But our Guide will never leave or forsake us, and our reward is new and abundant life in Christ. God’s glory revealed to us. Experiences with and in Him that we otherwise would never have.
Go ahead. Enter through the narrow gate. Choose the difficult way. I promise, it’s worth it.
An inspirational writer, teacher, and speaker, Shauna Wallace burns with passion to see women experience the fullness of God’s grace, faithfulness, peace, joy, protection, and provision by becoming wholly His. Finding hope and life in God’s word motivates her to help other women discover God’s power to transform lives.
Transparent and real, she opens her life and heart to encourage others. She and her husband, James, serve their church, community, and clients of their custom home building business. As a homeschooling stay-at-home mother of four, Shauna treasures the privilege of being James’ helpmate and training her children in the ways of the Lord. Check Out Shauna’s Blog Here!