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  • Writer's pictureBrandon 'b.Side' Alvillar

Encouraging words from plans that fail: Finding hope on the narrow road

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide [is] the gate and broad [is] the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow [is] the gate and difficult [is] the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” - Matthew 7:13-14

Dark and moody photo of Main Street Pier in Seal Beach California, totally empty
Few Who Find It

This is the Main Street Pier in Seal Beach, in Southern California. When I took this photo, my plan was to try and shoot the sunrise over the jetty, from the end of that pier. I did everything I was supposed to do. I woke up super early. Drove down to the beach in the dark. Rushed out of my car to get to my spot to set up the shot. When everything was ready to go, I realized that the marine layer was way too dense. There was no way I was shooting a sunrise that day.

 

At first, I was bummed. I had this idea in mind, and the weather made it so that I couldn’t execute that idea. Since I was already up, out, and ready, I figured I’d make the most of it and try to find another shot, leveraging the cloud cover as part of the shot. Walking all the way back down to the entrance of the pier, I started to realize how quiet and empty it was. It didn’t really hit me until that point. I was so focused on getting my sunrise shot, that I hadn’t really considered that it was just me and my wife on the pier. The waves were super mellow. It was dark. The clouds were moving quick. It was such a contrast to how that pier would look in just a couple of hours.

 

It's amazing to see how a location can change throughout the day. The Seal Beach pier isn’t the craziest of the Southern California piers, but it definitely gets packed out during the summer. Yet, there were Cara and I, all by ourselves. I realized that there probably weren’t going to be many opportunities to photograph a totally empty pier. So, I set up my camera at the entrance, and tried to get something that captured the empty, mellow, dark, moist, noir-like environment. I started to see that, there was an opportunity in spite of the plans that had failed. I had hope for a good photo while looking down this narrow road. So, here I am sharing some encouraging words...

 

When I got home to look at the photos that I got, this one stuck out the most. It reminded me of Jesus’ statement about the way to the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s narrow. It’s difficult. There aren’t many people on that road. Here, this narrow crop has this converging point, and it’s cool that, the only real light that you see, is going in the direction of the pier as it gets narrower and narrower in the frame. It’s empty. The ground looks slick and old. It goes into the abyss of clouds and ocean. There are warning signs, but none that discourage forward-progress. When plans fail, this is how it all seems sometimes.

 

To me, this photo seemed so fitting to illustrate the truth of a genuine Christian walk like Jesus described. As you go, it seems to get narrower. You can’t really see the end, but you know it’s somewhere out there in that abyss. You can see light along the way, but it’s not always obvious. The light comes in intervals. Just enough to get you to the next check point and keep your path illuminated along the way. The road is slick, but not too bad to keep you from moving. The footing is uneven, but you can keep going if you’re careful. There are signs all over. Some are helpful. Some are distracting. Some are confusing. None of them tell you to stop walking. Most importantly, it can be pretty empty, lonely, and feel desolate at times. As Christians we know we’re never on our own, but sometimes it can look that way. It’s tough in one sense, but in reality, when you pull back and look at the road overall, it’s really kind of beautiful. These were the encouraging words that the LORD gave me in the midst of these plans that I made, that had failed. He was showing me how to find hope on the “narrow road” He described.


The truth is, plans fail, but with the right perspective, even though this walk is hard, it can still resemble fine art. There are always ways of finding hope on the narrow road, if we remember who led us there. So, I like to think of this photo that way. My Christian walk is just as difficult and lonely as the next person’s; but the LORD has specially painted this path, on this canvas, to put me in that space, to create fine art out of the process that He’s creating. Since He made it, I know it’s perfect, it’s right, and it’s guaranteed to produce the results that He intends. For those who believe, that’s all good news.


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