Thursday, December 12, 2013

Who's at the Gate?

Part of the discipleship in the fields has been trying to teach the men about who they listen to.  There's many voices, many people who come to see the work we're doing.  Some are encouraging, but many are negative and discouraging.  One heartbreaking truth I've found in Haiti is that as soon as someone begins to aspire, whether spiritually or financially, the people begin to pull them back down into the mud.  Almost as if they don't want to see someone rise up out of the depths of the earth. I don't understand it, whether it's cultural or if it's purely spiritual, but almost immediately you will find an enemy at the gate, or someone sitting in the seat of the mocker.

In our case the illustration is very literal.  We've finished the work of fencing off the gardens to keep the animals out, but we haven't yet built the gates. The men who are working with me come into the fields early in the morning.  We begin with prayer and laying out the days work, and inevitably as soon as the men have found a hope or a nugget of truth to hang onto, as I'm walking away I see someone coming.

They come to the open gate or right up to the fence where the men are working, and then and there I find the crafty serpent has once again reverted to his time-honored tradition of slithering into the garden.

I hear the negative comments.  I hear lies.  I hear that spirit that is so surely against anything good that I can see it just as simply as I can see night and day.   In my mind I can paint Satan right there...."Did God REALLY say that?"
I feel the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, and back out to the garden I go.

I see the discouragement has come into the thoughts of the men.  I see the bounce in their steps has withered into a sigh of quiet solitude.  The fellowship is exhausted, and the sails are straining for the wind.
Six times this has happened since we've began, this relentless barrage, and each time we have to put these thoughts where they belong, kicking them out of the garden, before we can get back to the work of tilling the soil and planting the seed.  The soil is broken and begging for the seed to be dropped.  It thirsts for a new hope.  The seed is good.  The time is right and the enemy is frightened.   It's a battle of epic proportions played out in the most awesome of splendor, right in my back yard, but I know a secret...the wages of sin is death.

Kari just happens to be teaching a Bible class that yesterday bore down upon this very subject, and all of my thoughts culminated in this simple children's illustration that I showed the men today.  See how the shepherd sits at the gate and guards the sheep, keeping them protected and safe?  We are but sheep, like it or not, swayed by the prevailing winds.  6000 years ago or today.  Read the news, the latest current events, and you can see our simple tendencies...
The mess with Syria, Benghazi, the fiscal cliffs and government shutdowns, right down to the disrespect and humiliation of South Africa as they tried to mark the passing of Mandela.   I see the poor man and his sign language, just making it up as he went along.  And this man stood three feet from our President.  
But what about you, your life, your tumbles and falls?  Have you not found yourself to be so comparable to a sheep, those times when you realize you've been so led astray?
If the shepherd is not at the gate, the enemy will be.  Are you prepared for that?   I think of how many times I've been found asleep in the garden while Jesus prays...

'Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ~John 10:7-10

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