Category: Access to God

Baack to the Sheepfold – Again

Baack to the Sheepfold – Again

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve written a blog post. A lot has changed in a year. I quit a job. I wrote a book. I discovered Holy Yoga. I rediscovered myself.

A lot has also changed in a month. For everyone. All because of a tiny virus spreading across the globe like a tidal wave, leaving death and disruption in its wake. Each of us is adjusting to a “new normal.”

When I dusted off my blog today, I was surprised to see the title of my last post, dated April 7, 2019: “Baack to the Sheepfold.” I was already planning to share what I hope is some timely encouragement from John 10. About–you guessed it–the sheepfold. So, I guess I’ll just pick up right where we left off!

To recap, sheep are my favorite. John 10 is also my favorite. Today we’ll focus on the first verse in that sheep-filled chapter, as Jesus introduces us to the metaphorical sheepfold:

Truly, truly I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. (John 10:1, NASB)

The imagery of the sheepfold is a familiar one. But when I read this verse a couple of weeks ago, it took on new significance in a world now revolving at a safe social distance. I found myself identifying with those poor, penned-up sheep, hemmed in by confining walls. And this was only Day Four of “sheltering at home.”

I glanced down at the study note on John 10:1 at the bottom of my Bible page:

“Fold of the sheep: A court surrounded by walls but open to the sky, and with only one entrance. The walls kept the sheep from wandering and protected them from wild animals.”

NASB Study Bible

I prefer the wide-open spaces. I live in Wyoming, after all. Yet, like it or not, new “walls” have been erected around all of our lives, graffitied with names like Social Distance, Self-Quarantine, and Shelter at Home.

But the walls of the sheepfold exist for a reason. They keep the sheep from wandering, something sheep are quite prone to do. People are prone to wander, too. How many medical professionals have recently pleaded with us to just “Stay Home”? We’re a bunch of wayward sheep in need of some social boundaries.

The walls also protect the sheep from wild animals–and shield us from vicious viruses. A good shepherd pens his sheep for their own good. These walls are for our welfare.

But what I loved most about the description of the sheepfold was that it is “open to the sky.” The sheep pen has no roof. One can feel the gentle breezes or look up and see the stars at night. There is freedom, even in the midst of restriction.

Our bodies may be enduring what feels like endless days within the four walls of our homes. But our spirits remain gloriously free. Our souls are “open to the sky.” We have unrestricted access to our loving, heavenly Father. Our prayers can never be quarantined.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains–where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV)

Are your walls closing in? Are you feeling a bit stir crazy? Tired of being cooped up?

Look up. Lift your eyes heavenward. Feel the Son’s warmth on your face and breathe in the fresh air of His Spirit.

If the door to the sheepfold is temporarily barricaded, it’s only because the Shepherd is protecting His valued sheep from unseen predators. Trust Him. When it’s safe again, He’ll release you from the fold and lead you out into the green pastures He is preparing for you.

Only Child

Only Child

It’s been a good week to be Rachel.

With her older and younger sisters both happily away at camp, a rare, perhaps unprecedented thing occurred:

The “Middle” Child became the “Only” Child.

She’s had our exclusive attention.  Been treated to lunch, coffee and shopping.  Watched whatever she’s wanted on TV.  Hasn’t had to share.  Not one little bit.

It all ends tomorrow.  (Sorry, Rach.)

But she’s certainly enjoyed it while it’s lasted.

As a mom of three daughters, I try hard not to play favorites.  I love them all equally.  I love them each uniquely.

But I do not love them perfectly.  Despite my best intentions, there are those inevitable times when someone feels slighted or neglected.  Even the highest human love has its limitations.

Not so with God and His children.  For He is the Perfect Father.

His love is Unfailing.  His time is Unlimited.  His attention is Undivided.

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us to love.”
(St. Augustine) 

Since He’s infinite and omnipresent, He can pull this off.  All of the time.

He is GOD.

As His children, we have been given privileged, unrivaled access to His presence.

Yes, we are members of a wide and wonderful family.  We are brothers and sisters who need each other and (try to) love each other.  (Well, most of the time.)

But we also crave and need focused, one-on-one time with our Father.  Isn’t it reassuring to know that He is able and willing to relate to each of us individually?

It’s almost as if we were His only child.  Every single day.  We are never overlooked or forgotten.

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. (Ephesians 5:1, NIV)
 

We are all extremely dear to Him.

The word ‘dear’ in the Greek is agapetos. Agapetos means beloved, esteemed, worthy of love—God’s favorite.” (Jill Savage)
 

God never plays favorites.

Because we are EACH His favorite.

It’s always a good week to be us!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1a, NIV)
 

I love my girls!  And my little guy too.
I love each of my girls! And my little guy too.

 

An Issue of Access

An Issue of Access

Access: Denied.

Those weren’t the actual words on my computer screen, but they might as well have been. For the past week and a half, every time I attempted to go to my blog I got this instead:

“Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage.”

Every other website is functioning just fine. Except mine. Everyone else can access the blog. Except me. (In fact, the only way I was able to post this was by using Chris’ laptop and an alternate wifi connection.)

This sure feels personal.

It’s as if an invisible wall is keeping me out. My blog remains hidden behind some mysterious cyber-curtain. I feel shut out, closed off, excluded.

I wonder if the ancient Israelites ever felt this way about God…

You see, the Jewish temple was constructed with varying degrees of access:

–If you were a Gentile, you could go no further than the Outer Court.

–Jews could proceed into the Inner Court, but if you were a woman, you could not pass into the Men’s Court.

–Only priests could enter the Court of the Priests, and only certain priests had the privilege of serving, maybe once in their lifetime if they were fortunate, in the Holy Place.

–The high priest alone was allowed access behind a thick, double curtain to the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence dwelt. Even his entrance was restricted to once a year, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

This diagram illustrates the many “walls within the walls” of the temple:

God must have seemed unapproachable, inaccessible. He had to be worshiped at a safe, assigned distance. One could only get so close. To actually enter His presence was out of the question.

Until Jesus came and changed everything one dark Friday afternoon.

“With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38-39)

The writer of the book of Hebrews explains the life-altering significance of this event to his Jewish readers:

“Therefore, brothers and sisters…we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body…” (Hebrews 10:19-20)

Like the Iron Curtain, which separated Eastern and Western Europe, the Temple Curtain, which separated God and man, was removed. The Holy of Holies was now open to all who embraced Jesus, the perfect High Priest. Regardless of where we once stood, we have been granted total, unrestricted, glorious access.

“He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:17-18)

“This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.” (Ephesians 3:11-12)

I’ve gotten used to my blog being a mere mouse-click away, and am eager to have my full access restored. But in the meantime, I’m grateful for the reminder that the freedom and confidence I enjoy in approaching a Holy God isn’t something to be taken for granted. Because it wasn’t always this way.

Thank you, Jesus, for making Him accessible to all—Jew, Gentile, man, woman, child. I have a new appreciation for what a breathtaking honor it is to be invited behind the curtain. You so graciously welcome us, treating us like VIPS with full backstage passes. And one day we’ll be ushered into the actual throne room of God in heaven.

It’s unbelievable, really. And yet it’s true.

Access: Granted.

“Therefore, since we have been justifed through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” (Romans 5:1-2)

 

Theme: Overlay by Kaira