A Gate For My Children

22 10 2012

In my experience, it has always felt like if there is danger to be reckoned with, it lies “out there.” That’s why, as a parent, one cautions a child about crossing the street, trusting strangers, coming straight home, locking the doors and all that. The most dangerous place in the yard has always been the gate; once on the other side.

There are many gates a parent must contend with. I am looking at a few just now: there is the one in the yard, the obvious one that leads to all the physical places that are outside my view. There is the one on my computer, allowing my child to wander on the internet. There is the gate on their cellphones, calling to them in 140 characters or less…I know there are more.

In their younger years, the children were scarcely aware of the gate; they were content to be on this side; and then one day they noticed it and they got the wanderlust.

The Bible talks a lot about gates. Job 5:4 describes children who are far from safety; they are crushed in the gate and there is no one to deliver them. Contrast that with Psalm 127:5 where the father goes to the gate and speaks to his enemies beyond it without worry. In context, the parent in Job is described as a neglectful fool, whereas the parent in Psalms is one who has let the Lord build his house.

We have built our home under the guidance of Jesus and with a community of friends, an extended family who have loved our children all along the way. We have prayed through its construction and we have watched for weeds,  the erosive pull of culture and compromise. We have provided a garden, you might say, where our children can learn to flourish. It has been a work in progress, but it has always been a work we have taken most seriously. And now, as our children are older, we find ourselves again and again at the gate, watching our children open it by their free-will and wondering how they will handle the “out there.”

Children make you cry at the gate. They make you cry because you are so happy and so blessed and so thankful. They make you cry because they bruise your heart and often don’t even know it. They make you cry because you see something good growing in them and it fills you with satisfaction. They make you cry because they make foolish mistakes that are going to be hard for them to fix completely. Parents watch their children at the gate and wonder what paths they will choose. Parents most often don’t stand at the gate, they lean on it.

Don’t go into parenting lightly. I am not saying go into it with fear; just go into knowing who your own gatekeeper is because you are going to need Him.

Psalm 147 verse 13 says that God Himself strengthens the bars of our gates; and here is where the gate is personified, you know, like we ourselves are living gates modeled after Jesus. We are the first gate they know, and Jesus blesses the children we have raised within.

I am a gateway for my children before they ever reach any other one and either now or when they are older, they will still see it. I am the one they walk through who shares with them the beauty of a life lived with God. I am the one they hear as they pass, talking about values of kindness and faithfulness and gentleness and honesty and truth. I am the one who shares our yard with the stranger and the minority and the oppressed hoping that they will too. I am the one who will invite the construction and reconstruction of Christ for my own life and attitudes and skills. I will be the sturdy gate they pass through and they can make the comparison.

And what sort of gate am I? I am wrought iron: I have a grain resembling a soft wood, which is visible when it is etched or bent to the point of failure, but I am tough and malleable, ductile and easily welded and I will retain that description because I am wrought (worked on) by hand…the hand of Christ.*

And though my children may not always feel blessed to have me as a gate, God’s word says they will be; and one day, when they get it…they’ll construct a gate of their own.

— Teresa Klassen

*Description of wrought iron from Wikipedia.

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