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It’s Not a Crystal Stair

“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.”

Matthew 7:13-14

I remember an English class from my freshman year of High School, we read Langston Hughes’ poem “Mother to Son:”

Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor—


But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

So boy, don’t you turn back.

Don’t you set down on the steps

’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now—

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

I was thinking about this poem this morning. I have thought about this mother’s advise to her son, as hard as it gets, as difficult as it can be, don’t stop climbing the steps. And I was thinking about this while thinking about what Jesus said regarding the Narrow Path to Life and the wide highway to destruction. I’m certain that the narrow path is much like this mother’s journey, and I’m certain because I’ve had an adversary to throw down tacks, and pull up boards, and do everything he can to draw me from that narrow path.

Our Lord, Himself, did not have a “crystal stair.” From the time he was born, people sought to kill him. He grew up in an occupied Kingdom, where young men who rebelled against the occupier were often seen lining the roads, hanging on crosses, a constant reminder of what He was going to. He worked as a Carpenter, likely, some scholars things, a stone carpenter, a man with calloused hands, who worked for His living. Jesus was homeless for his three years of ministry, and healed and preached to large crowds who often abandoned Him (some of which wanted to stone Him, or throw Him off a cliff) when the teachings weren’t to their liking. He was betrayed by one of His twelve closest companions, denied by another, and abandoned by them all. He was lied to, spat upon, beaten, brutalized, tortured, and nailed to a tree, and all for the Love He had for His creation. And if this is how they treated the Creator, why do we feel we’ll get a pass?

Loved ones, coming to Christ won’t be a “crystal stair.” We will face trials, and troubles, and hardships aplenty, especially as we seek to do the will of Christ. Yet we, who are His followers, should fix our eyes on Jesus, who is the author and perfector of our faith. He has given us the Holy Spirit of God to dwell within us because of His work of redemption in His life, death, burial and resurrection, and that same spirit that rose Him from the grave also lives in us. So let us seek to follow Jesus, even if there’s splinters and missing boards, and tacks on the stair. Let us rejoice, even in suffering, that we may suffer for the sake of Christ Jesus. And let us proclaim, even as we struggle, the goodness of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that others may have the resolve to continue on in Him.

John 25-33

“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Philippians 2:1-18

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

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