When I think of gates, the first one that comes to mind is the archway at the entrance to Montreat, North Carolina.

It’s not really a gate anymore since there’s no blockade to prevent you from entering–unless you’re driving a truck. This double stone gateway is barely wide enough for one car to pass through in each direction. (Because of size limitations, a special route around the arch is provided for trucks).

The tiny village of Montreat is perhaps best known for having been home to evangelist Billy Graham, but it originated as a mountain retreat (thus the name) center in the late 1800s. The archway was built in 1922 as the entrance to the conference center, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA. To enter, you had to pay a fee, even if you resided there. When the town of Montreat separated from the conference center in the late 1960s and was incorporated, the gate was removed, but the arch has remained. Ironically, since then the stone structure has been struck by vehicles numerous times although it never was hit while there was an actual gate.

When you drive through this archway, you feel like you are going back in time. On the other side is a fairly typical, modern small town but just the process of entering lets you know there’s history here. And you realize how narrow the archway is.

Jesus said the entrance to life is narrow, too. “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:14, ESV). Not everyone will choose to pass through it to follow the difficult path required of those who love Him. In fact, the majority of people today are offended by His claim, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV). They’d rather believe they can find their own way.

What they don’t understand is that not all paths lead to the same destination. Choosing your own route is like having a GPS, then ignoring the directions and taking the road that looks more interesting or exciting. You won’t end up where you wanted to.

Like the gate at Montreat now, the entrance to a fulfilling life is open to all. The entry fee was paid by Jesus on the cross. But we each have to make the choice to pass through the narrow gate.