I took a tumble this morning. I stepped out of the snow and on to the path up at Bentley Priory woods (a favourite place for the dog and I). Walking in the snow had become tiring. The smoothness of the path had a special attraction. It was free of snow and beckoned me to step onto it. Little did I know that I was being lured towards a tumble!

After no more than a few strides my right foot lost its grip on some invisible ice, the left foot slid in attempting to correct the imbalance and moments later I was on my back looking up at the sky. A hurried glance around reassured me that no one had seen my moment of embarrassment – at least no one other than the dog, who rushed up with a concerned look on his face. A few bruises were the only physical consequences, but the experience set my mind off on another path.

Jesus said that following him was not the easiest path,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13–14 NIV11-GK)

The narrow road requires greater attention, focus and determination to remain on it. How can we stay on the narrow path? Here are two ways:

1. Stay open about temptation. We have a natural tendency to stray, “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” (James 1:14 NIV11-GK) Knowing this, we do well to be open with our friends about our temptations, and not just our sins. “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” (Hebrews 3:12 NIV11-GK). Do you have people in your life with whom you are regularly open about temptations?

2. Stay away from tempters. Some will try to lure us off the narrow path, “by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error” (2 Peter 2:18 NIV11-GK) Is there someone in your life who appeals to your baser instincts? Can you limit your exposure to them?  If you can, you must. “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV11-GK)

What did Paul & Barnabas say? “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” (Acts 14:22 NIV11-GK) They knew what they were talking about. The narrow path is harder, the wide path is easier. But the easy way is not the best way. I took a tumble taking the more attractive option. Let us not do that with spiritual matters.

Malcolm Cox