"Before you are two ways--the broad road of self-indulgence and the narrow path of self-sacrifice. Into the broad road you can take selfishness, pride, love of the world; but those who walk in the narrow way must lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset. Which road have you chosen--the road which leads to everlasting death, or the road which leads to glory and immortality? There never was a more solemn time in the history of the world than the time in which we are now living. Our eternal interests are at stake, and we should arouse to the importance of making our calling and election sure. We dare not risk our eternal interests on mere probabilities. We must be in earnest. What we are, what we are doing, what is to be our course of action in the future, are all questions of untold moment, and we cannot afford to be listless, indifferent, unconcerned. It becomes each one of us to inquire, "What is eternity to me?" Are our feet in the path that leads to heaven, or in the broad road that leads to perdition?" Our High Calling, page 8-9
Monday, October 19, 2009
Moving again: The Broad or Narrow way...
Once again Melody has been packing...but this time, it's not to go on another mission trip or family vacation. No, it's time to uproot and find a new home base.
Yes, believe it or not, after almost 3 years since I moved to Southern California, I am finally leaving..."Whew - what a relief! Away from Sodom and Gomorra at last!" Ha ha!! (Of course, more truth is in that statement than jest! Even though I never really did anything in the city, I never was comfortable with being soooo close to LA and Hollywood. The whole place has just seemed kinda counter-productive to the spiritual journey God is calling us to take.)
But of course, besides being sooo close to the big lights and the big city, being in Southern CA has not been all bad. In fact, it's largely been rather good. I've made soooo many friends in Loma Linda and Advent HOPE and made so many awesome memories, I can't even count. So, while it's a relief to leave the valley, it's also very hard to uproot and say goodbye. In fact, as I packed, I got rather depressed. This move has made me realize just how much I seem to invest emotionally, mentally and physically into not just the people I meet, but also my places of residence.
Spare me a few moments to reminisce: My dear little home in Loma Linda has been such a cozy comfortable spot. In fact, since I've been living on my own, it's probably the largest and nicest place I've ever had...complete with my dream view of a snow-capped mountain peak.
From the first night Susy and I moved into it on our air-mattresses, we prayed and dedicated it to God. And since that time, I feel God has richly blessed. I painted some of the walls. I tore out the guest bathroom wallpaper and remodeled it with a wild exotic missions theme. (I got more compliments on that bathroom than any other room in the house too!!) I planted my first California garden there. Even if it was only the size of my back patio, I had tomatoes and peppers and squash and all sorts of goodies that contributed to our health and happiness during our first summer there. I planted ferns and rose-bushes that will probably be thriving till the next century, or till their new owner uproots them all! I've fought with ants, moles and set-up my first "miracle swing." And the list could go on. Even though I am packing up and leaving...I feel like I'm leaving part of "myself" behind...
Of course, beyond the physical love my little home has received, is the people that have occupied it's walls. In the course of my time at this location (2.5 years to be precise), we've had at least 10 girls call this place their home!! (Some for 3 months, others for 6-8 months, and others for more!) We've had dozens of people over for Sabbath pot-lucks, birthday parties, girl-friend parties, prayer sessions, Bible studies and more. It's been the girl's hang-out for many, the place where the guys could come get a yummy bite to eat, and a "home away from home" for more. And now, I have to say goodbye...I hate goodbyes.
My current roommates weren't too keen on me leaving actually (that's kinda nice), and have been coming up with all sorts of reasons to try to convince me to stay. Or, if I wasn't going to stay, to leave as much of my stuff as possible. I guess they really did like my pictures and decorations hogging up ALL the walls! (Laugh laugh smile smile - yep, one of my roommies even told me that it actually "comforts" her to see my stuff around, and makes her feel like I'm not far away! Whatever that is suppose to mean!?) At first I thought that was kinda cool...you know, them wanting me to leave stuff around. And so, I decided I wouldn't take all my pictures or decorations just yet, after all...if I leave a few things about, it also makes ME feel like it's still "my home" when I come to visit, and I still have my foot in the door. Yes, the warm feeling of security from "still belonging here" was wonderful. But then the thought hit me...I have this problem everywhere I go, and leaving my "foot in the door" does nothing for helping me move on. I need to let go, pack it up, and just go. I need to just take the PLUNGE!!!! Ouchhh..... sniff sniff.... "Ok, here goes..."
So I did it!!! All my mission pictures down...all my bulletin board mementos off the wall, all my keepsakes off the shelves...and as for the bathroom...well, let's just say they are going to have to completely redecorate the bathroom, because there's nothing there now! (I think I over-heard them say something about having a "theme contest" to see who could come up with a replacement theme!! So we'll have to check back and see what happened?) And yes, I still had stuff in the kitchen. I took that too! So...no more crying! I had to keep reminding myself, I don't pay rent here anymore. This isn't my home anymore. I am moving on!!!! It was kinda hard to do, but once I did it, it was liberating too...
As I drove away...headed to some Northern new destination and work place, my moving situation reminded me of what it's like for us spiritually as we prepare for Heaven. As we journey onward, we know that we are going to have to let go of more and more of this world and depend more and more upon Christ...yet we still keep holding on. We can't let those worldly treasures or worldly memories go it seems. "Maybe if I just keep a few, you know, so I still have my foot in the door...I can leave that way. But I still have the security of knowing, I can come back if I want." But how can we truly be ready to meet Jesus when He comes back, IF we still have our foot in the door....still holding on to our place in the world.
Or maybe there are those of us that are willing to pack it all up, but what we can't take we aren't going to let go of. We'll just store it away. In case we need it for a rainy day!! That's just as bad as leaving it all upon our walls or shelves. Even stored treasures, hopes, dreams or plans can tie us down and keep us from really growing and becoming who God has called us to be. We must prepare to meet our soon coming Lord...and this means, we must LET GO of the WORLD!!!!
There's a dream a women named Ellen White once had about the journey towards Heaven. It's called the "Narrow Way." Let me share it with you here:
"While at Battle Creek, Michigan, in August, 1868, I dreamed of being with a large body of people. A portion of this assembly started out prepared to journey. We had heavily loaded wagons. As we journeyed, the road seemed to ascend. On one side of this road was a deep precipice; on the other was a high, smooth, white wall. As we journeyed on, the road grew narrower and steeper. In some places it seemed so very narrow that we concluded that we could no longer travel with the loaded wagons. We then loosed them from the horses, took a portion of the luggage from the wagons and placed it upon the horses, and journeyed on horseback. As we progressed, the path still continued to grow narrow. We were obliged to press close to the wall, to save ourselves from falling off the narrow road down the steep precipice. As we did this, the luggage on the horses pressed against the wall, and caused us to sway toward the precipice. We feared that we should fall, and be dashed in pieces on the rocks. We then cut the luggage from the horses, and it fell over the precipice. We continued on horseback, greatly fearing, as we came to the narrower places in the road, that we should lose our balance and fall. At such times, a hand seemed to take the bridle, and guide us over the perilous way.
As the path grew more narrow, we decided that we could no longer go with safety on horseback, and we left the horses and went on foot, in single file, one following in the footsteps of another. At this point small cords were let down from the top of the pure white wall; these we eagerly grasped, to aid us in keeping our balance upon the path. As we traveled, the cord moved along with us. The path finally became so narrow that we concluded that we could travel more safely without our shoes; so we slipped them from our feet, and went on some distance without them. Soon it was decided that we could travel more safely without our stockings; these were removed, and we journeyed on with bare feet. We then thought of those who had not accustomed themselves to privations and hardships. Where were such now? They were not in the company. At every change, some were left behind, and those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships. The privations of the way only made these more eager to press on to the end. Our danger of falling from the pathway increased. We pressed close to the white wall, yet could not place our feet fully upon the path; for it was too narrow. We then suspended nearly our whole weight upon the cords, exclaiming: "We have hold from above! We have hold from above!" The same words were uttered by all the company in the narrow pathway.
As we heard the sounds of mirth and revelry that seemed to come from the abyss below, we shuddered. We heard the profane oath, the vulgar jest, and low, vile songs. We heard the war song and the dance song. We heard instrumental music, and loud laughter, mingled with cursing and cries of anguish and bitter wailing, and were more anxious than ever to keep upon the narrow, difficult pathway. Much of the time we were compelled to suspend our whole weight upon the cords, which increased in size as we progressed. I noticed that the beautiful white wall was stained with blood. It caused a feeling of regret to see the wall thus stained. This feeling, however, lasted but for a moment, as I soon thought that it was all as it should be. Those who are following after will know that others have passed the narrow, difficult way before them, and will conclude that if others were able to pursue their onward course, they can do the same. And as the blood shall be pressed from their aching feet, they will not faint with discouragement; but seeing the blood upon the wall, they will know that others have endured the same pain.
At length we came to a large chasm, at which our path ended. There was nothing now to guide the feet, nothing upon which to rest them. Our whole reliance must be upon the cords, which had increased in size, until they were as large as our bodies. Here we were for a time thrown into perplexity and distress. We inquired in fearful whispers, "To what is the cord attached?" My husband was just before me. Large drops of sweat were falling from his brow, the veins in his neck and temples were increased to double their usual size, and suppressed, agonizing groans came from his lips. The sweat was dropping from my face, and I felt such anguish as I had never felt before. A fearful struggle was before us. Should we fail here, all the difficulties of our journey had been experienced for nought.
Before us, on the other side of the chasm, was a beautiful field of green grass, about six inches high. I could not see the sun, but bright soft beams of light, resembling fine gold and silver, were resting upon this field. Nothing I had seen upon earth could compare in beauty and glory with this field. But could we succeed in reaching it? was the anxious inquiry. Should the cord break, we must perish. Again, in whispered anguish, the words were breathed, "What holds the cord?" For a moment we hesitated to venture. Then we exclaimed: "Our only hope is to trust wholly to the cord. It has been our dependence all the difficult way. It will not fail us now." Still we were hesitating and distressed. The words were then spoken: "God holds the cord. We need not fear." These words were then repeated by those behind us, accompanied with: "He will not fail us now. He has brought us thus far in safety."
My husband then swung himself over the fearful abyss into the beautiful field beyond. I immediately followed. And oh, what a sense of relief and gratitude to God we felt! I heard voices raised in triumphant praise to God. I was happy, perfectly happy.
I awoke, and found that from the anxiety I had experienced in passing over the difficult route, every nerve in my body seemed to be in a tremor. This dream needs no comment. It made such an impression upon my mind that probably every item in it will be vivid before me while my memory shall continue." By EG White, Christian Experience and Teachings, 1922
Wow - what a powerful dream, huh?? And to think, that she had this dream back in 1868. It certainly contains a powerful message for us today as we are even nearer to Jesus coming. Are we on the "Narrow Way" or have we chosen the wider more traveled path???
So, as I've packed and am moving again...I am reminded...it's not the THINGS that really count...I can leave them behind. I'd rather make sure my life is cleansed from all that would keep me from God...and that I am safely in His care...on the Narrow Way!