A few months ago I was coming off Route 95 outside Boston and getting onto the Mass Pike. The way it’s set up, when you come around a bend in the exit ramp, you come up to a whole set of toll booths. So as I drove up, I looked to see which of the booths were open.
Well, apparently a whole bunch of the booths were open. But for the Fast Lane. The Fast Lane is the option you can sign on for with the state, where you pay up front and get a little electronic device to put in your car. The toll booth detects it when you pass through, and you never have to stop. In fact, you never have to meet a human being in the whole process.
So, about 4 booths are open for the Fast Lane, but for the few people like me who still haven’t signed on to the Fast Lane, we get one measly toll booth.
And a looong line of cars.
So here it is, one narrow, long line of cars for the human toll booth, and 4 wide as can be fast lanes for the electronic toll booths.
So I waited and waited through this long line of cars while all these other people are speeding along through the Fast Line without even a stop, and I’m starting to think, there’ a lot of pressure to sign up for the Fast Lane. If I were taking this route every morning, I’d probably want to sign up. It’s much quicker and easier, and I’d avoid this crazy long line.
But then I thought, I wouldn’t meet the toll booth collector.
Now, the toll booth collector is not the most prestigious position. On the totem poll of job reputations, toll booth collector is not up there with doctor or pro athlete or CEO. Toll booth collector is there with cashier and parking attendant. Toll booth collector is near the bottom of the pecking order.
Guess Who is very close to the toll booth collector.
There’s a great pressure out there to sign on to the fast lane in life, isn’t there? In the fast lane, you don’t have to have patience and wait. In the fast lane, no one is zipping by you while you feel stuck going nowhere. The fast lane is popular and easy, and there’s no toll booth collector.
In the fast lane, there’s no cross. There’s no Jesus Christ.
The Lord wants us to not be afraid to wait for the sake of others. He wants us to not be afraid to be last, to be unpopular, to not skip over the nobodies.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and 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.” (Mt 7:13)
It’s then that we’re carrying the cross. It’s then that we’re with Him.
“I am the gate; if anyone enters by me, he shall be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (Jn 10:9)