Wide > Narrow > Wide

Dan Lovaglia, Camp Pastor, Camp Paradise | June 7, 2023

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad 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 7:12-14

This year marks my third summer living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at Willow Creek’s Camp Paradise. As the Camp Pastor of Dads Camp, I get a front-row seat watching fathers and kids experience life to the full in a remote one-on-one retreat setting. Since 1991, we’ve provided space for 15,000+ dads to unplug and reset, to recharge with God, their child, and other fathers spiritually and relationally. What’s amazing is the number of times I hear dads say, “I wasn’t sure about this, but now it’s blocked on my calendar every year. Now I tell every dad I know about it!”

I promise today’s devotional isn’t a plug for Dads Camp. It’s just an obvious parallel to Jesus’ wrap-up for the Sermon on the Mount. Masses on the hillside listened intently as Christ reframed God’s truth and its application. People either bucked at or believed the new rabbi’s teachings, but everyone tracked with Him spiritually and practically. Jesus cast a wide net about the kind of living that’s best, and the crowd wanted more. Then in Matthew 7:12-14, He clarifies that His message won’t be found or received by everyone. That is, not everyone will unplug and reset from the world to live as citizens of the kingdom of God.

The only way to Camp Paradise is on a narrow road, but once you get there, the boundaries widen toward endless exploration and enjoyment. At Dads Camp, fathers show up needing to hear the Golden Rule, but it quickly moves on from “treat each other as you want to be treated” to “let’s grow in loving God and others as we follow Jesus together.” Not everyone will respond favorably to the second act, but for those that do, there’s so much freedom, joy, and life to be had at camp and at home.

Jesus’ ever-growing gathering on the Mount of Olives, and Camp Paradise’s constant influx of new campers, have something in common: participants have no idea they’re on a destructive path until someone points it out. The “wide way” is being caught up in the crowd. The “narrow way” is locking in on God’s best and never turning back. When we do the latter, we get to experience an ever-widening life that only the Lord can give and guide. “Wide > Narrow > Wide” is Jesus’ invitation to join Him together moment by moment, day by day, forever.

Next Steps 

What’s your “Wide > Narrow > Wide” experience in relationship with Jesus? How have you started experiencing life to the full on the other side of trusting Christ, and who does God want you to tell?

Going Deeper

Grab that printout again or your Bible. Today, mark any transition phases you see in the text and then take a few moments to summarize the chapter in just a few sentences.