(If you have not already done so, after reading this you should also check out the thread "Pilgrims Progress" by adonaicole.) SECRET OF THE NARROW GATE I awoke to a cacophony that filled the hall,Of glasses too large and talk way too small.Of jokes crude and vulgar and stories flamboyant,Traded for laughter just as cheap and abhorrent.Smokers busily chaining one 'light' to another,Killing themselves with one end, everybody else with the other. But the smoke stung my eyes as I breathed in vain,And the drink tasted stale and just clouded my brain.The talk and the gossip, so exceedingly small,Died in my ear and reached my mouth not at all.And on each back sat a burden, strapped on tightly.And with each glass, smoke and word they grew ever so slightly. " 'Tis not you but this pointless death I fear,Can anyone show me the way out of here?"But all were besotted and blurred of eye,Save one of sober manner who smiled and said, "Aye!"He was a man with a burden exceedingly scant,And he gave me a book and lit me a lamp. "This book will guide you and the lamp keep you safeFrom pitfalls and stumbling blocks and the snares of this place.""Come", I said, "I've seen how they laugh and deride,You deserve better than that, come with me outside."But he just smiled and warmly took my hand in his two,"Soon, but for now there are some more here like you."So I left him there with his books and his lampsAnd discovered the door and learned the secret of its clamps. Outside other doors stood wide and ajar,From the outside at least, not a lock or a bar.Some flashed neon and some, bright gaudy colours,Some sprouted spruickers and the fleshy antics of others.Some looked like pubs and some looked like palaces,And temples and churches, and like red-lighted fallacies.But the book said ignore them, for none that you seeCan keep you safe - look only for me So I passed all these, though some slower than others,And some who would have stopped me and made me their lovers.With nose in book, one footstep at a time,Back bent double, burdened from neck to behind,Thus I traveled long, and thus I traveled far,Until stopped by a gate - narrow - but ajar! But I could not enter for the burden on my back.I could fit, but not the girth of my pack.I looked for a buckle but only a lock I found.But no key could I discover - though I looked all around.A tap on the shoulder made me stop and look."Hi! My name's Peter - I'm in the book!" "Now this gate has really been opened to all,But as you can see they must first make a call!The one with the key waits by the cross on yon hill.It cost His life's blood - but help you freely He will!"What little energy I had left was spent quickly upon the climb,But almost ere I'd started two pierced hands warmly clasped mine. To endless mercy I announced, "I've come for the key."Mercy smiled and Mercy spoke, "My brother that would be me."And scarred hands touched the lock and it opened with a snap,But my burden sat unmoving in its niche upon my back."Unlocking is the easy bit - my sacrifice made it so,The real question is - are you ready to let it go?" Then I began to understand the secret of the gateThis burden was everything I had - and none could I take.Sins mixed with dreams, and pride alongside shame,Good deeds and bad deeds and reputations all in vain.None of it mattered the other side of that gate.It's only what I do from now that will seal my fate. So with all my might I shucked and I shook,As I watched Him enter my name in His book.And when the time comes I'll fit through Heaven's gate,As Jesus helps me unload all the thing's I can't take.But in the meantime His burden is light,Just books and lamps to illuminate the night! D.J. Ludlow Copyright 2003.