When automobiles became affordable for more people, it soon became imperative to create roadways on which these automobiles could operate. In 1925 Congress passed legislation which authorized the creation of a federal highway commission to create and maintain highways across the country. The next year, a highway route from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA received the designation, US 66. It was among the first interstate highways to be created by the federal government. This road stretched about 2,448 miles from the heartland of America to the West Coast, and passed through eight states. In 1938 it became the first U.S. highway to be completely paved.
The highway, which came to be known as Route 66, was the main thoroughfare from the Midwest to California during the Depression, and in the war years, as people moved to work in the agricultural and industrial centers of California. Over time this route captured the fascination of Americans and was immortalized in songs and television programs in the 1960s. Although its official designation was US 66, it came to be known as “The Mother Road.” It was decertified in 1985, due to the completion of the U.S. Interstate Highway system, which in many places bypassed the old route. Nevertheless, the lure of the old Route 66 still captivates many travelers, and restoration and historical efforts mark its route in nearly every state in which it passed.
The story of Route 66 is interesting and entertaining, but it also illustrates an important spiritual truth. When Jesus was coming to the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, He told His audience that there are only two ways in which they could travel through life. In Mt. 7:13-14 He said that they must enter through the narrow gate because this is the one that leads to eternal life. But, He added, few would find it. In contrast, He said that the other way, the broad way, leads to destruction, and many enter it.
The narrow way of which the Lord spoke is like old Route 66. It is not a super highway. It is not built for comfort and speed. It is sometimes difficult to navigate, and it takes considerable thought, and planning, and attention in order to travel it. However, like Route 66, it is a road that is marked by things of great beauty and inspiration. Those who travel this road will experience things that simply cannot be experienced on the only other available route. The broad way, on the other hand, is convenient and easy to travel. It is marked by all the things a traveler might desire, and promises both speed and comfort to those who use it.
Every analogy breaks down at some point, and so we acknowledge that one can travel from Chicago to Los Angeles by any number of routes and still arrive at the destination. However, the Lord did not offer a variety of options for our spiritual journey through life. He said there are only two routes that we may take through life, and we must carefully choose which one we take. One is certainly the route of less resistance, the super highway as it were, but no one truly wants to go where this route leads.
Instead, we need to choose the spiritual “Mother Road,” which is the narrow way that leads to eternal life. Yes, it will be the more challenging route to take, but these challenges will be more than offset by the many blessings we will receive as we travel it, and by the greatest blessing of all, a home in heaven at the end of it. Though few may find it, all who do find it will discover that they are among like-minded people who will help them along the way. When all is said and done, there is no better route that we may travel. Let “the Mother Road” take you all the way to heaven.