You Can Only Come Through the Door

“I am the door, and the person who enters through me will be saved and will be able to come in and go out and find pasture.” 

John 10:9

This is powerful–its implications can rattle the windows! I sometimes struggle with depression, and sometimes with an assurance of my salvation.  Even after 40+ years of walking with God, my mind boggles at my salvation.  But I read this and it tells me that Jesus is the door. 

I need to understand that Jesus has to be the entrance for every real seeker.  We must cross over God’s own threshold to find eternal life. 

Philosophy and religion are some of the crowbars that many are using to force open this locked door. 

People are doing their best, but the door remains solidly shut.  There isn’t any other way in.  If the door is closed, no one can open it.  Access is restricted to those who will come through the door that is the Lord Jesus.

There is total forgiveness waiting for anyone who enters through this door. 

A transformation of the heart is now given to all who come in properly.  Once we enter through Jesus,  our life opens up and we can live lives of real love and goodness. This is the Gospel, and at last, we understand what life is really all about.

We now know what is real, and what is not. 

We have been outrageously blessed! Jesus Christ has the keys, and He has opened the door for us. It was once securely locked, but now we can step right in, it is now unlocked for everyone who will put their trust in Him. We can enter in, and we will find everything we were looking for. Our pasture is waiting. We can step into a place that has been prepared just for us.

“God saw in the cross of His Son the only door by which he could enter to give a blessing to sinners.”

 -G.V. Wigram

I Still Grieve (But I Understand Grace)

‘Who gathered this flower?’ The gardener answered, ‘The Master.’ And his fellow servant held his peace.”

It was November 13th, in the year of our Lord 1999, was unlike any day I have ever experienced. A beating with a baseball bat would seem preferable. On this cold afternoon, hell was unleashed on my wife and me. What we encountered was soul-wrenching and profoundly tragic.

Perhaps a parent’s worst nightmare is the loss of a child. On this day we lost Elizabeth Grace. She was stillborn, which is rare these days– or so I have been told. She entered this world fully formed, a beautiful baby girl. Today, she would have been 24 years old, and maybe married, planning a family of her own?

“But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

2 Samuel 12:23, (When David’s newborn son died.)

Our loss was grievous, but we are not unique.

Plenty of families have suddenly lost a child. I can truly commiserate with them. Somehow we are connected in a perverse way. It seems like an exclusive club, that requires a secret handshake, or something. Suddenly without warning, you are thrown into personal chaos, and very little is remotely decipherable, even to a believer.

The book of Ecclesiastes that there is a definite “time to mourn.”  Matthew tells us, “Blessed are those who mourn.” He does go on to say. “for they shall be comforted.” This comfort is available for any who chooses to take it, but you can refuse it if you really want to.

Grief unites us all, but Jesus loves us infinitely.

I can’t imagine meeting life without his care and comfort. He has been outstandingly gracious to this family. Sure there was pain, but there was also tenderness and a kind grace. Still, sometimes it may have felt like a “kick in the head.” (But I assure you– it was grace.)

What I still can’t understand is simply this. What would it have cost God to allow Elisabeth to live? I mean, what ‘skin off His nose’ would’ve it taken to let her live? To this day I still have questions, but I have decided to trust. (I trust Him after all, to save my soul.)

Those who have suffered will comprehend and grasp, the noxious environment of grief and loss.

But we can only take what we are dealt. The sadness is there, but so is His comfort. Make no mistake, His love matches (and even exceeds) the pain and the loss of a child. Truly, God is wonderful and He is good.

I do know that He loves me, a weirdly rascalish, struggling disciple. He holds me close to His precious heart, and I will have no other gods except Him. I will not take up umbrage with Him on this. But I must believe that someday soon, I will truly and completely understand this.

Lynn and I celebrate her birthday every year.

 

Someone Please, Light My Darkness

“Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
       Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.”
 

Psalm 13:3, NIV

God is the sole developer of light. 

He creates it and then assigns it to whomever He chooses.  He is the proprietor and the sole creator of its properties.  Without Him actively bestowing light on us we would have no access to its power or its benefits.  He holds the exclusive patent.

As Adam’s progeny, we have experienced a light moratorium. 

“The unfolding of your words gives light;
       it gives understanding to the simple.”
 

Psalm 119:30, NIV

History shows people to be amazingly compliant and susceptible to dictators and men with power.  We seem to follow leaders with sinister and strange purposes and agendas. History shows it over and over.  We just can’t grasp what is true and what is real.

Darkened by our sin, we struggle throughout our blinded lives, unable to understand or grasp what is our real purpose.  Meaning completely eludes us.  However, we are directed by the Psalmist to open our hearts to the gracious gift of light.  It illuminates us, giving us a sense of what is real and how life truly unfolds.  The word “understanding” from our text is critical.  No matter how stupid and pathetic we have become, the Word of God penetrates our fog and gives us a sense of what is true and real.

Let it unfold, let it open up in your understanding. 

Like an umbrella on a foggy and rainy day, when it opens it will cover you.  Notice that the source of lit-up truth emanates from the “words”.  Place yourself in His Word, let it pour over you, and let it bring you to the place of joyful acceptance.

Jesus has come as the “Good Shepherd”. 

Those of us who are being led into His Grace and Truth are finding the light.  He is revealing to us a definitive understanding of truth.  And we need truth desperately. Let Him lead you.

Bryan Continue reading “Someone Please, Light My Darkness”

Standing With Her in the Rain

standingaloneintherain1

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2, NLT

By Lisa Schubert, Guest Author

Samantha issued commands to the person on the other end of the line. When she hung up, the rant continued against our church, our staff, the weather, and this meal that would serve as her Thanksgiving dinner. I had to let her go mid-rant, but not before reminding her that I would keep her in my prayers.

Samantha approached me outside the church on Thanksgiving morning with her hair disheveled and her coat covered with dirt smudges and raindrops. She demanded to borrow my cell phone to find if the Thanksgiving dinner she had requested from a charitable organization would be ready for pick-up in an hour. I was in a hurry. I needed to be inside preparing to lead worship. I begrudgingly let her borrow my phone, but I insisted on dialing the number myself and standing with her in the gentle rain.

Cross-in-the-Rain-

My encounters with Samantha have continued over the past few months. She’s almost always confused, angry, and paranoid. She tells stories about growing up with another member of our staff, who never met her until recently. It’s hard to know how to respond to Samantha.

A friend called me recently to ask if our church had any resources for helping congregations to welcome those who struggle with mental illness. I pointed her in a few directions, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at www.nami.org. Even as I offered her the information, I felt uneasy. Connecting with those who have mental illnesses is a complex, difficult journey.

It was raining again on Monday when I saw Samantha. She was sitting in the front lobby of the church. She shouted at me as I walked out the door, “Be careful out there! Two guys tried to kidnap me, and I wouldn’t want that to happen to you.” Unwilling to believe her, I replied, “Samantha, I’m sorry you had a rough morning. I’ll be thinking of you. Hope your day gets better.” I continued out the church doors and opened my umbrella.

I later discovered that Samantha was mugged that morning. Thankfully, the police believed her while I had blown her off. They arrested the alleged perpetrators that afternoon.

I’m embarrassed by my lack of gentleness and compassion toward Samantha, and I know I’m not alone. I wonder what it means for the Church to embrace, accept and listen to those who have mental illnesses. I wonder how church leaders like myself can grow and help others to deepen their care for people like Samantha.

There are no simple answers, but I think the answer starts in a simple place:

We stand with them in the rain.

Lisa Schubert is Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Formation of North United Methodist Church, Indianapolis.

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