Sunday, November 22, 2009

Finding Your Balance on the Narrow Road

by Dina Sleiman

Matthew 7:13-14
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. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

I love Jesus’s parables. They can mean different things to different people. Or multiple things at the same time. God is gracious that way. One day I was thinking about the parable of the narrow road. It had never been a favorite of mine. I pictured it kind of covered with trees and scrunchy, and I have these issues with feeling trapped.

Then, being the gracious sort of fellow that he is, God gave me a new picture. The narrow road could be thought of as thin straight line down the center of a broad expanse. Sort of like a tight rope or a balance beam. Now I haven’t been a circus performer, but I have been a gymnast. When you walk on a balance beam you have to feel with your toes and look straight ahead. You have to keep yourself centered by holding your abdomen tight.

In this picture of the narrow road, I saw Jesus straight ahead, and I locked my eyes to His. Those ever-accepting, ever-radiating eyes. How easy it would have been to wander off that road. To change my trajectory ever so slightly, a few degrees towards freedom or order, towards judgment or grace, towards justice or mercy. A few degrees now could leave me miles off course somewhere down the path.

No, I had to keep my eyes glued to him. I needed to stay centered. To keep my balance from deep within. I couldn’t afford to hold on to any weighty encumbering burdens that might tip my scales. I tossed them into his arms, and I was free. I wasn’t crouched low on some scrunchy path. I stood tall, flung my arms wide. I breathed deep. All the air of the world was mine.

And I danced through the center of a vast paradox.

So many aspects of scripture and God’s character can seem contradictory to our limited human minds, and yet these paradoxes coexist in perfect harmony within our wondrous and mysterious God. Sadly, entire religions, denominations, and schisms are formed fighting over such coexisting truths.

In light of this month's focus, perhaps we should consider how to find balance in our role as women. Applying this principle to a women’s place in the family and the home, we must balance the truth that the husband is the head of the home with coexisting truths such as submitting one to another, coming into agreement and unity, and husbands preferring their wives in love. While nurturing our children and releasing them into their gifts, we must remember that God desires to minister to their mothers and release us into our gifts as well.

When considering a woman’s place in the church and the workplace we must balance certain Biblical traditions with amazing women of God like Deborah, Lydia, and Priscilla who surpassed those traditions. Also, we must keep in mind scriptures like, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

We as believers must stop fighting about such amazing coexisting truths and learn to accept them with the wonder they deserve. We must lock our eyes to Christ and refuse to lose our balance while moving directly towards Him.

Be blessed this week as you dance through the center of a vast paradox.

Question of the day: what is your favorite parable and why?

Leave a comment and your email in the next five days to be entered into a drawing for one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. Story: Recapture the Mystery by Steven James retells the drama of the Biblical story in new and unexpected ways, much like today's post. Be sure to leave your email with spaces or brackets for your own protection.


  1. Matt. 13:31, 32.

    Another parable put he forth to them, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard-seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown it is the greatest amongst herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

    We have already seen that by the Kingdom of Heaven is meant the government of the Divine Love and wisdom of Jesus Christ. This kingdom is here likened to a grain of mustard-seed, which a man sowed in his field, because the growth of the divine love and wisdom in man is from a small beginning, inasmuch as man, under the first reception of heavenly truth, is led to suppose that he can do good from himself, and not from the Lord, when yet such good is nothing but evil: but whereas, he is in a state of regeneration, there is something of good, but the least of all.

    By this least of all seeds, when it is grown, being greater than herbs, and becoming a tree, is meant, that as faith is conjoining to love, the growth becomes greater, answering to that of the herb, until at length, when faith and love are fully conjoined, it acquires a full growth, answering to that of a tree.

    By the birds of the air are to be understood things intellectual, or truths exalted into the higher or inner region of the understanding; and by the branches of the tree, the scientifics of those truths, or truth as it is received from the letter of the Word, when it first enters the memory, and is there deposited, as mere science of heavenly things; and by the birds making their nests in these branches, is denoted, that when faith and love are fully conjoined, then truths, or things intellectual, continually multiply and increase their kind in scientifics, which are of the memory.

    We learn, generally, from this parable, that the Kingdom of Heaven, in man, who is the government of the Divine Love and Wisdom, is small at its beginning, because man, under the first reception of truth, supposes that he does good from himself. We are instructed further, not to be discouraged under these small beginnings, because, if we proceed patiently to acquire faith and love, there will be a gradual increase of heavenly good; until at length, when the conjunction is complete, the tree of righteousness will grow to its full size; in which case, things intellectual, which are heavenly truths exalted in the inner man, will be connected with the scientifics of truth in the outward man, and, by virtue of such connection, will multiply and increase immensely after their kind, until the human mind is restored to the order of heaven, through the reception of heavenly truth in all its degrees.

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  2. I needed this "centering" this morning, Dina. Thank you!

  3. Hi Dina,

    What a refreshing 'Sunday Morning Post.' I needed that.

    One of my favourite parables (I have many) is the story of the Prodigal Son. I always reflect on that lesson.

    Have a relaxing Sunday.


  4. Yay! Sunday visitors. My wish come true.

  5. Virginia, wow, seems like we have a theologian in the audience. Thanks for sharing such incredible thoughts today.

  6. I'm always in awe of our Lord's teachings and parables. I wasn't able to make it to church today, so I'm grateful for this post. Thank you for these encouraging words!

  7. Karen, I heard an interesting take on the Prodigal's Son lately. Basically, the teacher said that the story is really about the older brother. The father remains a constant. We're not even sure if the prodigal changed, or if he just went home out of desperation.

    But the older brother, that's the character who faces a real moral dilema, and the one with which most of us can relate.

  8. Ellie, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Your comment made me smile because I went on facebook today and told all my friends that if they planned to skip church, then they needed to go read my devotional.

    If you'd like to be entered in the drawing, please leave us your email address with spaces or bracket around the @. It's a great book. I'd hate for you to miss out on your chance.

  9. "The Mustard Seed" is my choice of parable, but the eloquent phraseology comes from a website called "Bible Meanings". Sorry! I should have given credit where credit is due in my first comment.

  10. Dina,

    Yes...I heard that same slant to the Prodigal Son story more than once...

    I agree w/ you...most of us are like the 'older brother' at times.
    Makes you wonder how 'selfish' we are...or can be.


  11. No problem Virginia. They were beautiful thoughts nonetheless.

  12. Karen, the older brother is the character I can relate with most as someone who grew up in church and walked the straight and narrow. I could be pretty judgemental as a teen. I think I can look at other's with God's grace and love now, though, and just be glad they came home.

  13. Dina, a beautiful thoughtful post. It's so easy to take those couple of steps off the main road and not always keep our eyes on the Lord. Our priest was reiterating this morning that Jesus came not to be like us but as an example for us to be like. It's not the destination so much as the journey, as we've learned time and time again. If we journey right, the destination will be there.

    The Prodigal Son has always been a hard parable for me. The Lord and I go round and round on that one. I love the widow's mite re unselfishness and giving. I've learned the more I give, the more I get, but sometimes that's very hard, too.

    Have a blessed day. No traps today! :-))

  14. Connie, I'm not feeling trapped thank goodness. However, I was thinking today about an area in my life where I've probably been letting some heartache weigh me down.

    I was reading in my own devotions that the pure in heart will see God, but that seemingly innocent things like fear, guilt, and heartache can cloud our vision. It seems to fit with this post as well since they can weigh you down and get your eye off of Jesus.

  15. Very nice, Dina. I must say, you've certainly given me a lot to think about. And, without saying too much, today you managed to hit me right where I live. I can apply this today. In fact, some of this mirros what I was sitting at the table thinking about less than ten minutes before I read this. It must be a God thing! Thanks Dina.

  16. Suzie, I had a strong feeling that someone would really need this message today. I'm so glad to hear that it touched a specific need.

  17. Dina, you know whats so interesting about that? If I had read this earlier today, as was my original intention, instead of getting side-tracked by other things, it wouldn't have struck me in the same way, and the truth that I needed to see...I most likely would have seen it a different way, instead of the way I _needed_ to see it.

  18. Thanks, Dina! Lovely devotional today.

  19. Hi Dina,
    Hello friends. I was out of town and missed church today, so I appreciated this post in the early morning.
    I was really struck by the image of getting a few 'degrees' off will turn into miles off course eventually. So true. And then we have that much more to go through to get back to the original path. But along that routing we learn those lessons that make the narrow road more appreciated.

    These sunday devotions have been really appreciated.

  20. Thanks Susanne, and my pleasure. See, I'm going to be like Julie Lessman and see if I can rack up 60 comments be answering everyone personally. Have a great day.

  21. Yes, Debra, isn't that so true about getting a few degrees off course. One of Satan's best tricks is subtlety.

  22. Oh, what a wonderful post!

    My favorite parable? This week?
    The parable of the talents.

    A chilling example of letting "fear," a la Satan, quash the use of God-given gifts.


  23. Yes, Patti, a great parable for writers. And interesting considering all the discussion about self-publishing happening on the ACFW loops.

  24. Good post Dina,
    The narrow road parable apply to many aspects of our lives. At work, home, marriage, church...
    We lock our eyes on Jesus and move forward doing our best to avoid distractions and temptations. It is much easier said than done but His grace is always sufficient.
    I honestly never thought of a favorite parable, but what comes to mind first is the parable of the ten virgins. (Not the 72 :)
    P.S. Enjoyed reading your new book on the plane for the second time instead of watching movies. You are a keeper :)
    Love you.

  25. Dani, nice obscure Islamic reference.

  26. My favourite is the parable of drawing in the net - Matthew 13:47-53. I honestly can't explain why but I've always loved those verses. wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

  27. Interesting. I forgot that one Wanda.

  28. The winner of Story: Recapture the Mystery is Karen. Congratulations! Karen, I'll contact you soon.



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