Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)
I was thinking about the narrow path when I ran my five miles on the treadmill today. I had the Grand Canyon DVD on and was running through the virtual, winding rocky trails- on the precipice of annihilation (such a drama queen). Well it is pretty narrow and daunting on that treadmill when I am doing incline work and looking at the TV, my body tends to follow the path on the screen and I am all over the place! Of course I was thinking of a more literal interpretation, but it is food for thought on how the literal and spiritual come together.
In 2002 Jim and I traveled to the other side of the world and actually ran a bit on a very famous “path”- The Great Wall of China. What an experience that was, moving along a section of the some fifty-five-hundred mile long set of steps and walkways stretching all across China. They were uneven and worn, wide and narrow, and you could just feel the great age and manpower it took to construct them, as far as the eye could see and beyond.
It was one of those experiences, like the Boston Marathon, that wasn’t in the game plan of my life- at least I wasn’t expecting it. But I saw an ad one Sunday in the parish bulletin with the title: Parents Needed for Orphaned Asian Children, and I thought, “Huh. They need parents.” Now, most of the time I’m not some mental midget who is clueless to that obvious fact, but I had never really thought on it. And it was like one of those bolts from on high because what before hadn’t even been a blip on the radar screen was within one week a done deal. We were adopting a child from China.
There are just a small handful of events as I look back on the path I’ve traveled up until now that is permanently etched in deep. I remember my times out running during the eighteen months it took for the stars to align and we could travel to China and I could get my baby. I hardly saw the trail; my mind was constantly focused on envisioning what it was going to be like to have someone hand me a child and it would be mine.
I wrestled with that cross of waiting- knowing that my dear one was across the world, in some cold, heartless orphanage without her mommy there to hold her, to love her. It was overtaking me actually until I had some words with God about it and came to realize that there was one specific child He had for me. It wasn’t going to be a coincidence of haphazard events. I needed to trust that the weeks had to go by so that God’s design and plan could work itself through and that one child would be ready for only me (oh yeah, and Jim too).
I needed to live my life in the moment because although my mind was consumed with this big thing, I still had so many things to experience and treasure right there at home- my other two children and their lives, all the ordinary but extraordinary blessings He was showering down on me each day.
All those times and miles I ran and thought and tried to imagine what it would be like fell short. The day came, and the stars did align, and Jim videotaped in the hallway of the hotel in Nanjing (because there ain’t no way he was going to get to hold my baby, I mean our baby, first). And the Chinese guy running the show was handed one of the nine bundles in that group, he read a name written on her sleeve, Jim responded and said that was us, (I was for once speechless) and then he gave me my Gracie, my little chunk of China.
I didn’t rush her, I smiled and said hello to her through my happy tears. She just stared at me with a look of complete bewilderment and a little fear. But I hugged her gently and closed my eyes and our two hearts that started out at opposite ends of the world from each other met and bonded.
All the different-width paths we walk and run in life- some calculated, some random, some completely out of the blue. They make more sense when you stop, turn around and look back on the rocky trails that have led you to that point. But we are not to stay there. We have to turn back around and move forward, to unforeseen narrow paths into the future. It’s then that we focus first on God, and trust that He will lead us through to whatever place He wants us to travel.