Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Doorway to Heaven

I'm really enjoying this summer Bible Study we are doing here in Italy.  It's on the 7 "I AM" statements of Christ from the Gospel of John.  There is nothing like studying what Jesus actually said about Himself to get a wider view of the Savior.  What I'm finding so far is that He sounds so confident, so authoritative that I just can't take my eyes off the page.  New realities of what a life lived in Christ looks like are taking shape.

Nearly 4 years ago, I wrote an article about Jesus as the Doorway, partially based on John 10:9 (and that is the verse here in Week 2 we are studying.)  At that point in my walk - I was in need of direction.  I was just starting out in my writing career, trying to find my voice.  The theme of that article (to me anyway) was about seeking.  I was seeking Jesus, I was hungering to know Him, so I could trust in Him more.  I was reaching out for Him.  As He always does, He answered the door personally.

The events of my life in the last 4 years distinguish a period of knowing Christ in deeper, more intimate, more dependent ways than ever before.  It took a journey into hardship to know the truth of the faith that I claimed. 

Yet, old enemies remain.  The things I struggled with then - I still struggle with now.  Oh, don't get me wrong, it's gotten a lot better.  But I still fall back into old habits; let's say take off the clean, designer duds of sanctification to put on the old, nasty rags of the flesh from time to time.  It's like taking a walk down memory lane, back to the ghetto you grew up in.  There is no good reason to do it when you now live in a mansion, but I still do.

I wrote this yesterday morning:

I know I will keep making mistakes.  I just don't want to keep making the same ones.  Help me with my unbelief, Jesus.

Jesus is still (always was, always will be) the gate.  He is the doorway that lets things in and kicks things out.  Four years ago, I wanted Him to keep the bad of the world out.  Now, it isn't so much the bad outside, but the bad lingering in my mind.  This current cycle of my faith doesn't stem from reaching for Him as much as it is my struggle to keep a hold of Him.  To keep Him first and grow in the security that the battles, even long-standing ones, have already been won.  Can I ever fully give the control of my thoughts (and thereby actions) to Him? 

And when I do, what do I get in return?

Yah, that's a pretty selfish line of thought.  But I'm being honest here and there is Biblical basis for my thought process.  If you are going to clean house, you can't just leave it empty.  The command in Scripture is to put something good in (such as the Word of God), so you don't have a hole waiting to be plugged up with more nonsense.  This is the essence of the battle of a mature faith.  Don't just get rid of the bad, instead put in the good of God, or you might end up worse than you were before.  (Philippians 4:8; Matthew 12:43-45)

The struggle of our faith is to delight in Christ more than anything else.  By extension, we don't just begrudgingly submit control over our flesh.  We learn that the things of God are infinitely more enjoyable than the things of this world.  If we let the Lord have control over what comes into our heart, He will have control over every other aspect of our persons - mind, body, words, thoughts and actions.  That, more than any other change: of circumstances, location, finances, relationships, etc., makes the difference.

John 10:9 goes on to say that when we allow Christ to be the doorway of our existence - we can go out and come back in.  He isn't going to limit us or make life un-fun.  Indeed, a life lived with boundaries is infinitely safer and more secure than a life of helter-skelter.  I've lived the willy-nilly, do-your-own-thing life.  It's fun for awhile, but the end result is always heartbreak.  Jesus leads to pasture - fulfillment, healing, peace, comfort, security, salvation, joy, favor and purpose.  No lasting heartbreak in sight, when Jesus is in charge (Hebrews 11:25).  (Even when the circumstances aren't the best.) 

The question remains: Can I really do better on my own?

And my answer remains the same: No. 

So, help me Jesus.  Help me to loosen my grip on controlling my flesh.  Help me to surrender to Your tender care.  Show me that trusting You to set the boundaries on my life is the most excellent way to live.  Then I can go forward in the confidence that You, as my doorway to temporal and eternal life, have it all covered.

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