“I am the gate…”;
Tony E Dillon Hansen
7 So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.
(John 10: 7 NRSV)
The next two “I am” verses come from John 10, and they each give us different perspectives about Jesus, as a gate and as a shepherd.
I remember walking through a gate into my grandparents’ farmhouse yard only to face a massive, menacing turkey following us to the door. We see gates through literature and movies: gates before Helm’s Deep, the arch into Jurassic Park, or energy portals between dimensions. For my Grandmother’s house, there was no question what was on the other side. Yet, upon finding such gates that do not have much visibility, one might begin questioning. Do we enter, and what happens on the other side? As well, we remember that a gate is an entry: place to start but also place to leave. Thus, what do we leave?
Each day of our lives we face decisions and proverbial gates. Do I take step forward or do I just stay where I am? The gate represents change, uncertainty, innovation, chance as well as hope. When we come to gates in our lives that are critical decisions, we might need a dose of courage and inspiration to proceed to move forward beyond today. Steve Jobs once said that upon daily looking into a mirror, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something” Yet, with all of our brokenness, too often we revert to contentment and resign to staying within ourselves - letting the turkey decide for us. What are we clinging that we fear to change or to enter the gate? We might hear Jesus and that good voice, but perhaps think “my heart just cannot take another surprise”, for yet another day in a row.
Understandably, we are skeptical of people making broad claims because we know marketing with false “guarantees” to solve what is missing in our lives. Yet, there is a real truth because we know and recognize authenticity, and Jesus offers genuine and authentic truth. That is part of the conversation that Jesus invites us where we can be authentic in ourselves and find the One listening to us. We are invited to hear and to listen to the voice that welcomes and speaks truth. When you hear the truth, maybe the gate won’t seem so daunting. Take a step forward, have faith, and live into the welcome you have been given.
For those that have found the strength to step, do we have patience and grace in turn to welcome others wherever they are on life’s journey? Jesus reminds as well that we must be gates for others to find hope and justice, without judgment - just like the example Jesus set for us.
May the One, who welcomes us at the gate, be with us this season as we seek to hear your truth and take steps. Be with us and guide us through the COVID-19 trials. Let us witness your comfort within our spirit to take those steps. Amen.