“Would you prefer a guaranteed check or a debit payment for a marriage license?” the groom-to-be asked the curly-headed clerk at the town hall fee window.

She pointed to a sign above the glass to save the time and effort of repeating the answer dozens of times.

“Fines and Fees may be paid in cash, cashier’s check, money order, bank voucher, Visa, Mastercharge, Discover, lottery winnings, Starbucks gift cards. No American Express.”

Paul squeezed Carole’s hand. Both seniors smiled in anticipation and excitement of being one step closer to their wedding day.

“Today’s a special day! It’s like a dream come true!” she commented to Paul.

“Be right back,” Paul promised and they left for the bank. After getting cash, he and Carole returned, their faces still lit with smiles. But when he pushed the bills through the pay drawer, the clerk recoiled. Were they were sprinkled with germs, grime, disease, and Chipotle seasoning? Absolutely not. But the town employee shook her head and pushed back the money. “No cash.”

“But the sign says you accept cash.”

“Except for marriage licenses.”

“So I take it that for marriage licenses, you can’t accept Starbucks gift cards.”


“Visa, Mastercharge, or Discover,”

“Nope. Only for court fees.”

“Then what can we use for the marriage license fee?”

“A cashier’s check from the bank or a money order. Cashier’s check, two and a half bucks at the bank. Money order, 69 cents at Circle K. Have a nice drive.”

By the time the couple returned to the pay window and clerk for the third time, knowing that persistence pays off, they perceived the town hall staff was doing its part to keep couples together. Doing battle through the narrow window a man and woman had to win with determination and the right kind of payment, or they’d never make it past the town clerk to the altar.

Instead of the narrow window manned by the town clerk, Jesus tells of the narrow gate that leads to life. :

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is 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 7:13.]

Jesus uses the word picture of a narrow gate for multiple reasons. A highway is wide with fast-moving traffic. A wide road heavily traveled fits right there in with “Everyone is doing it.” But leaving behind bad choices, destructive habits and thoughts to focus on God takes a deliberate effort to accept Jesus as God’s son. It is a less traveled way to let Him guide us. But the scenic route with Jesus will be full of sights worth stopping to enjoy. For living God’s way is true and right, and the narrow way is the path to Him.

A narrow gate also paints the picture of a small entrance to a protected place. A good shepherd stands guard. Anyone who wants to fight or go after the sheep picks a fight with the whole family of God. The words from Jesus state, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” [John 10:9].

Paul and Carole agree that the narrow gate to Jesus is worth the effort, and it is easier than getting a marriage license from the town clerk.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and  website, http://www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]







About Jo Russell

Jo’s humor, inspirational stories, articles and devotionals have spanned more than 40 years, with several national writing contest awards for humor. She's a contributing author in Chicken Soup for the Soul—Shaping the New You and Heavenly Humor for the Dieter’s Soul.

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