Finding the gate


Yesterday morning there was a lamb in the garden.  We have ewes and lambs in the fields all around us – a wonderful sight – and this one had got through the fence.  My son and I opened the small gate back into the field, but it then took a bit of time and a few false starts to coax the lamb towards the gate and then through it.

Which reminded me of Jesus’ words: 'I am the gate' (John 10:9).  He adds, ‘Whoever enters through me will be saved.  They will come in and go out, and find pasture.’  And a sentence later he is saying, ‘I am the good shepherd.’

The parallel is rather neat.  The lamb had thought the grass was greener on the other side, had got through the fence, and then found itself stuck.  Cut off from its mother: the source of milk and protection, the source of comfort and every other reassurance that a lamb needs and wants.

We think the grass is greener on the other side.  We cross the boundaries set for our protection.  Then we find we’re stuck.  Our deepest needs, including for belonging, truth, comfort and purpose, are not met.  We’re cut off from the source of all of those.  So we feel a bit worried, a bit lost, and at times really fearful.

The comparison goes a bit further.  Even when helped to find the gate, the lamb didn’t see it at first.  It ran in the other direction.  It took patience, calm and gentle coaxing to nudge it close enough to the gate so that it saw the opening, and then it was through.  Straight to its mother and a long drink.

Even when kind friends try to help us to find the gate, telling us that it leads to deep peace, forgiveness, joy, reassurance, eternal life, renewed purpose, healing of our hurts… and the list goes on... we tend to dart around and head off in some other direction.  It often takes a while to gain the peaceful curiosity, as we’re nudged along, to have a proper look at whether this might actually be the gate to freedom.

And as soon as we’re through, there’s a long drink of living water, welling up to eternal life.  But no amount of promises from friends or Scripture or other people’s testimony will – really – persuade us.  We have to head through the gate ourselves to find out.

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