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.


Sometimes Weary

14 10 2012

One shouldn’t blog when weary; everything seems darker than it should and come morning-time, so often there is a new spring.  Having said that, beautiful things have been written about weariness and the kind of disillusionment one feels when tired in body or in soul.

Bilbo, in Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings” admitted, “I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”

Like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. Isn’t that well said?

E.T.A. Hoffman wrote, “Let me ask you outright, gentle reader, if there have not been hours, indeed whole days and weeks of your life, during which all your usual activities were painfully repugnant, and everything you believed in and valued seemed foolish and worthless?”

Do you ever find yourself there? Dragging your feet around; accomplishing little or nothing and not even knowing what you would do if you did “set your mind to it”? Things you are normally excited about, even passionate about, are uninteresting or even sour to your taste just now and simple tasks feel mountainous for no apparent reason?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem about the weary leg of the journey;

 “With favoring winds, o’er sunlit seas,
We sailed for the Hesperides,
The land where golden apples grow;
But that, ah! that was long ago.

How far, since then, the ocean streams
Have swept us from that land of dreams,
That land of fiction and of truth,
The lost Atlantis of our youth!…”

What does one do when in a weary place?  Something opposite? This reminds me of a post I saw on Facebook yesterday:

 It was scientifically proven that only 5% of the worlds population can give a correct answer less than 1 minute. Say the opposite of these word.

1. Always.

2. Coming.

3. From.

4. Take.

5. Me.

6. Down.

I have no idea if this has been “scientifically proven” or not, but the point is, maybe only 5% of the people find it easy to do the opposite when in a weary place. The rest of us ask: where do you find renewed energy, purpose, vision, hope, and clarity? Sometimes you can just “dig deep” but what if the well is dry? What fills the well?

The writer in Psalm 42 struggled:

 Why, my soul, are you downcast?

Why so disturbed within me?

But then he says,

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;

therefore I will remember you…

Deep calls to deep

in the roar of your waterfalls;

all your waves and breakers

have swept over me.

By day the LORD directs his love,

at night his song is with me—

a prayer to the God of my life.

I don’t have much more to say then that. Sometimes we need refueling before there is much more to write, or say or do. Sometimes we need new perspective. Sometimes we need a good sleep or a good cry or a good meal; sometimes we need to get quiet before God and let him search our souls and we need to open ourselves up to His good words; then we can look at things again from a better vantage point.

— Teresa Klassen

Who Asked You To Do that?

11 10 2012
There are cathedrals around the world of breathtaking beauty but the thing that moves me the most are some of the dark corners where no one thinks to look.  In these private, tucked away places, one also finds the painstaking work of some artist who chipped away in obscurity, giving glory to God. Delicate flowers, intricate crosses, Bible verses etched in stone, out of the public eye. These hidden places tell me something about the man who worked here: his love for God, his desire to give back to God, was motivated by something other than recognition. I can see him chipping away there, in conversation with Jesus: “this is for You.”

In Philemon 1:14 Paul addresses the goodness of people in that church as being something that should be motivated not by compulsion but of their own accord. Without anyone telling them to love others, without a program, a date on the calendar, a reminder, a plan; without training or a sermon series or someone organizing most of it. Of their own accord, people should just respond to how the Spirit leads them.

I love it when people do things without being told.

I love it when people sit at home and think, “What could I do,” come up with an idea, and do it.  I love it when people just do what their love for Jesus compels them to do without anyone having to drag it out of them.

  • I love it when people pray because they care enough to.
  • I love it when people use their gifts to fix something because they see it is broken or disorganized or could be done a better way.
  • I love it when people send a note because they were thinking of someone other than themselves.
  • I love it when people slow down long enough to look another in the eye.
  • I love it when people say, “I will” without being badgered to.
  • I love it when people don’t let their age or occupation or marital status or their past stop them from being a blessing.
  • I love it when people step into a challenge not because they think they are an expert, but because it is their way of thanking Jesus and offering the gift He gave them.

I love it when there aren’t excuses, disclaimers, or delays. I love it when people stop procrastinating and deflecting and listen to their heart and respond. No one tells us to do that, out of our gratitude to Christ, we do it of our own accord.

When I see people behaving that way, living life missionally, it encourages me in my own walk to do the same. It energizes me and gives me courage. The fruit of their labor, keeps me going in my own.

And when one person is, of their own accord, being loving. And another person, of their own accord, is being loving…pretty soon you have something that looks like the Church.

— Teresa Klassen

Patient In Tribulation

30 05 2012

I read today in Romans 12:12 “Be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” There was something about that “patient in tribulation” that caught me today.

It isn’t that we are to just hold our breath and endure a crisis. I think it is more strategic as we choose to be quiet and bide our time; observing developments unfold; walking along, not saying much (because what can one say in a tribulation?). Watching…watching…for those sometimes tiny clues that God is at work and where.

Patient one must be (that sounded like Yoda), because in my experience, God seldom moves quickly. I think if He did it would be like pressing an elevator button; once it is there and you ride to your floor, it all seems unremarkable. I think patiently watching God is more like watching someone do one of those puzzles, you know the kind that have like 10 squares and one corner missing and you slide a piece left and slide one up, and slide one right, and then move 2 down and…you know?  I am never good at those…but I think God is like that and when the picture is finally in place it is more of a wow…how did He work with all that disorder?

I am very impatient. I know everyone says that…but I have a problem with the disparity between God’s timing and mine; the lag time; the layovers.

Romans 12:12 reminds me that as I practice patience, it is the perfect time to fill the uncertain space with prayer. Patience requires that I get clear about who I am and who God is and to look up the definition of faith once more.

Tribulation comes with a thousand question-marks, most of which will remain until I have a face-to-face conversation; but, if I am patient, I see God’s power as an exclamation in the middle of it all.

For this I am thankful today: There is nothing that surprises my God. What I perceive as detours, never are (they were just roads that I wouldn’t have chosen). God is never late in the game and never misses His chance. Also (much to my chagrin) He never needs a single one of my ideas to save the day.

— Teresa Klassen