I was in a hurry to get to Wakefield station to catch the train to London for an important meeting (important to me, that is, not to world peace or anything!). Looking forward to a full English breakfast on board, I was using my car's satellite navigation system to be sure of not getting lost.
(By the way, have you noticed how people have names for their satnav? Mine speaks with such a superior, long-suffering voice that she can only be a Mildred. But I digress.)
A few minutes after entering the city Wakefield , Mildred proudly announced our arrival at our destination. Facing a set of imposing and very secure-looking gates, I reflected that security had obviously tightened up lot since I had last used the train.
As I looked for a place to park, I noticed a small panel on the gates, announcing: ‘H M Prison Wakefield'. Mildred had led me to the wrong gates: these were definitely not the entrance to the kind of experience I had planned for the day.
With a rather different picture in mind, of sheep, sheep-pens, and shepherds, Jesus confronted the religious leaders of the day about their failure to lead the people to God. (You can read about it in John (NT), chapter 10, verses 1-10).
“I am the gate,” said Jesus—the gate to life itself. Life that not only goes on into eternity, with God, but a life that is also full and abundant on earth, here and now. His concept of the life of his ‘sheep'—Christians—was in complete contrast to that of the religious teachers of the day, with their amazingly detailed list of things that must or must not be done if you wanted to get into heaven.
Jesus revealed the dramatic truth that had been buried in the minutiae of the traditions that had built up around the Law given to Moses: that the Father's heart for us is not a long list of negatives and ‘thou shalt nots'—rather, it is to restore to us the satisfying, fulfilling life that he created us for, ‘life in all its fullness'. Is that the kind of life you're looking for? ‘I am the gate' to that kind of life, said Jesus then, and it's still as true today as 2,000 years ago.
Well, despite Mildred's sense of humour, I did get to the station eventually—and enjoyed my full English breakfast on the train. I did eventually find the right gate. How about you?Pray: Lord: I want, and I need, this life that you promise. Help me to understand how I can go through the gate you've provided in your son Jesus. Amen.
Think about: You may be wondering whether life is as fulfilling as you'd like it to be. No matter how hard you try and what successes you have, does it always feel like something's missing? Is there a part of you that seems to want more of something - if only you could figure out what that 'something' is? Your God-shaped hole can only be filled by one thing: God himself. Are you willing to see if he fits?
Challenge: Each morning over the following week, start your day with a short prayer (before you even get out of bed!). As part of your prayer, imagine that all the really fulfilling things in life are visible through a gate, and that Jesus is standing by it with the key. Ask him to open the gate for you each morning. Over the course of the week, reflect on the good things that happen to you and all the blessings you have, and thank God for opening the gate. During more difficult times, believe that God is there with you, going through it all with you. Being on the other side of the gate doesn't mean an escape from life's trials, but it does mean that God is with you.