So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly – John 10:7-10
I’m taking a deviation from the family reunion theme this morning for several reasons – the most important of which is a gentle stirring of the gray matter in terms of the new book I’m currently writing.
So I was both distracted and inspired by the guys who spent several hours installing a new front door in our home Monday. Especially when saw what looked like a man preparing to open a door (or a gate) to another world, right there in the middle of my front yard.
Connecting Points: A couple of weeks back someone asked me what factors tend to be at play when I’ve had profound spiritual experiences. Or, thinking about the man with the door in my yard, “What have been my entry points into the Kingdom?”
Is it prayer?
Or great preaching?
Maybe uplifting music?
What about community?
How about a guy with a door in the middle of my yard?
Was I at church?
In conversation with my small group?
Reaching out in mission?
Praying for a friend in need?
Attending a conference?
Or a retreat?
Surely it’s when I’m in front of a crowd speaking?
If not that, then what about what happens to me when I’m writing…?
Well the writing part was close, I’ll grant that. But have you noticed yet what’s missing from this list? This isn’t a formulaic statement, or anywhere near 100% true in all cases, but I will go so far as to say that, if one element was likely the common denominator in most of the deep spiritual moments I have experienced over the past couple of years, then that element would have to be The Word. I am increasingly captivated by the Bible.
I’m increasingly captivated by the Bible. As a writer, I enjoy the privilege of dedicated reading time most days. More and more, my natural choice has been to go back to the Bible and expose myself to the Word of God.
Bible study is like praying and reading at the same time. In fact, I seldom open the Bible without – first – asking God to be with me, to guide me, and to teach me something new.
Meditation: But before I even pray seriously (and I guess we’re backtracking a little here), I like to spend some time involved in simple meditation. Meditation, in my spiritual practice, is where I slow down, quiet down, concentrate, and settle into a place where I’m actually cognizant of the presence of God before I begin any kind of a conversation.
Meditation is a no-brainer, really; it deals nicely with the unhelpful pat declaration that God is always with us so why would we need to go looking? Believe me, God could be tap-dancing on my desk and I wouldn’t notice if I first didn’t take the trouble to settle down and open my eyes! I’m not looking for God when I meditate so much as I’m opening the shutters on my heart, clearing my eyes, and putting on my best listening ears.
The Gate: Jesus is the gate. Jesus said people can and do literally come in and go out through him. Jesus is the channel, and through Jesus people find pasture… nourishment for their souls… and – ultimately – abundant life. Jesus is the ultimate life-charged word.
But what/where/how is my opening to Jesus? I find that I meet Jesus in many ways and in many places, but it’s true that I meet Jesus most consistently in God’s Word through the Bible.
You can come in, and go out... "I am the gate."
Would you look at that! At the beginning of this post the photograph looks like some door in the middle of a garden – but it turns out all you have to do is walk through and suddenly you’re in the lobby of this amazing house. Cool, huh? It’s like a portal into another world. Well, that’s what getting immersed in scripture does for me – God’s Word is a powerful connecting point to Jesus, and Jesus is the Living Word.
Scripture is my best gateway into the Kingdom, it’s my passport to spiritual consciousness. I can – as Jesus said – go in and come out again. But I’m finding, more and more, that I’m staying in. I’m beginning to inhabit God’s Word, and it’s a life-charged Kingdom experience.
I’m rambling today a little bit. I can feel it. Take what you can use and discard the rest.