Earlier this year, the pastor in charge of small groups at our church, Pastor Sam, asked several of us to present our thoughts about a set of texts that he suggested – in under five minutes – in a small group leaders meeting.

When I got this request, my mind went pretty quickly to a memory from work. An executive VP, in preparation for a large group meeting, asked several people to present “three-minute drill” talks, and I remembered how one wise lady had handled the time-limited challenge – by writing a poem. So I thought, well, that’s what I’ll have to do then. One big difference, during the big meeting, the EVP put up a countdown timer with an oddly distracting and fairly loud alarm that went off if the speaker went over the time limit. Pastor Sam didn’t do that.

The passage I chose was Matthew 7:13-14, and it is this.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

And these were Pastor Sam’s questions to consider:
• What is destruction?
• What is life?
• Explain “easy.”
• Explain “hard.”
• How is Jesus central to all these dynamics?
• What potential do small groups have to foster life and not destruction?

Here is my poem. I’m finally getting around to posting it, and I think it applies well to these times. The form is the same used by Pastor John for his advent poems, which my daughter Adelyn says is iambic octameter.

Thoughts On Matthew 7:13-14

Yes, enter by the narrow gate,
Commands our Christ, so it’s the fate
Of those who follow Him to go
This way, against the ebb and flow.

For many go another way.
It’s hard, we hear, so why obey?
His reason told: it leads to Life.
Not fear, not death, not curse, not strife.
Destruction is a fright’ning word.
It means disease that can’t be cured.
It means a death forever felt.
To many will its curse be dealt.
There’s one who wants its death for you.
He sings against the good and true.
The Prince of Darkness points to wrong,
And calls it good. Resist his song.

But life here means to be with God.
Not under His just, chastening rod.
But in His loving, strong embrace
And under His bright shining face.

So: what is meant by easy? All
our undirected minds will fall
In line and follow our own way.
We’re gone tomorrow, here today.
It’s easier to hate, ignore,
Or scorn the One you should adore.

And what is meant by hard? This way
Will mean we choose to trust, obey.
And that’s not what we tend to do.
We still don’t want to follow through
And follow the creator who,
Yes, by the way, created you.
We walk a different path away
So we won’t have to trust, obey.

And how is Jesus central to
all these dynamics? Sam*, don’t you
already know the answer? He,
the human in the trinity,
This Jesus made this blessed gate
And laid a path, clear, level, straight.

And if it’s hard to walk God’s will,
It was for Him much harder still.
He didn’t cross the easy gate.
He stepped out in the face of hate
And walked a cruel, horrid path.
He felt God’s full, just, potent wrath.
So what else can we do but choose
His road, t’ward life we cannot lose.
If Satan wants dark death for all,
There’s joy for those who heed Christ’s call.
He’s stronger than the Prince of Pain.
So choose the path of hope and gain.

And what about that group you’re in?
You all will lean t’ward ease and sin,
Forget God’s plan to cure and bless-
This we will surely do, unless
We enter by the narrow gate.
And not just pass, then sit and wait.
You aren’t in a one act play.
No. Choose this hard gate ev’ry day
And every minute, every hour.
And not by your mere human power,
But by the strength that He gives you.
Thus choose the hard way found by few.

Our one-another goal: Exhort.
And not just: “Hey, hold down the fort.”
Say more: in trust and joy, step out
In faith, walk straight, not roundabout.
Step t’ward each other, and with them
Then side by side thus walk t’ward Him.
Step down the path He walked for you.
He made it well, it’s straight and true.
Again today, choose joy, don’t wait.
Yes, enter by the narrow gate.

* Or, if you like, ‘Saint.’