Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

“I am the gate.” John 10:7

This is the I am statement of Jesus that I probably know the least, and in my research for this post, I realized/learned that this I am statement is very connected to tomorrow: I am the good shepherd. They both come from Jesus’s words to the Pharisees immediately after healing the man born blind. The Pharisees have asked Jesus whose sin has caused the man’s blindness. When Jesus implies that their own sin is keeping them spiritually blind, the Pharisees are offended and Jesus launches into this extended metaphor of the shepherd and his sheep.

I learned an interesting thing about shepherds and sheep at the time of Jesus. At night, several shepherds would bring their sheep from the pasture and keep their flocks together in the same pen. One of the shepherds would sleep across the entrance to the pen, keeping the sheep from predators and thieves who would try to enter the pen by night. In the morning, the sheep, knowing the sound of their own shepherd’s voice, would follow him to the pastures, separating back into their own flocks.

In this I am statement, Jesus is telling me he will be my protector, provider, and guide. When temptations or fears sneak over the wall to try to steal my joy, I need to remember that Jesus is right there, ready to save me. He wants me to have an abundant life, and this abundance comes from believing in and following him. He will call me by name to the pastures he has prepared and provided for me.

Right before school closed on March 13th, my seventh graders and I had been studying the truth of God’s providence as revealed through the parables of grace. I am the gate is a beautiful example of God’s providence. Even when he appears to be sleeping, God has placed himself in the position to protect, provide, and guide. That’s a truth I am choosing to cling to right now.

For today: I will be aware of the fears, dsitractions, and temptations that make it harder for me to hear the shepherd’s voice. When I am afraid or distracted or tempted, I will say a quick prayer for trust. I will make a list of all the ways God is protecting me, providing for me, and guiding me during this difficult time.

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