Sudden loss- grief of any kind- can be so overwhelming. It often leaves us running for comfort to the One who holds us all. And in His Presence, He calls us back to these truths that He laid before the earth was formed.
The Truth that's available to us in God's Word is precious beyond words, especially as we look for understanding in peace in the midst of grief. The imagery I share below are gifts that God laid on my heart while I searched His Word, crying out for understanding and relief. In His Word alone, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you too will find relief from overwhelming grief.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out... John 10:1-3
Outside our gate is the Good Shepherd, but also... the thief. The good shepherd is constant, faithful- infinitely reassuring. He waits, with his quiet presence, for the gate to be opened. He gently and consistently calls our name, shows us His Way and waits for our response. He doesn't become frustrated, impatient, or angry. He doesn't grow louder to drown out the noise. He just persistently calls out for us, lovingly and mercifully waiting for our response. He desires our readiness and willingness. He doesn't enter by force, he doesn't kick down the gate, he doesn't go in another way. His Holiness desires and persistently seeks our earnest participation and response.
He knows love can't be stolen or held hostage or locked away. He knows love only dwells in freedom and with freedom there's always choice.
But sometimes- sometimes- the thief is loud- maddeningly, deafeningly, soul-stealing LOUD. Sometimes he wants in so bad that he howls over the fence, he crashes into the gate, he brings the forces of hell to rattle the walls that surround us... He's all we hear. He's as loud as possible because he sees the special parts of us that, left alone, would boast of God's goodness too loudly. He will do anything to get in, and if he can accomplish nothing else, he will distract us from our shepherd who is relentlessly calling our name. The thief, with all his ruckus and rowdiness can be so loud and frightening that we barricade the gate closed. We fasten every lock we can find, pile up the heavy stuff in front, and hunker down.
The shepherd waits. The enemy keeps growling.
But prayers come. Loved ones and strangers alike detect this rusted, overgrown, welded shut gate and so they pray. They pray for silence from the enemy, courage for the gatekeeper- that the shepherd would call just a little more loudly... They pray for the chains to break, the welds to crack, the keys to be recovered. And slowly, slowly, the gatekeeper begins to hear whispers. The Shepherd's gentle voice is heard above the slowly fading growls and threats.
We, the gatekeepers, begin to tentatively monitor the gate, slowly moving away all the weight and hardness that's seemingly closed it for good. This is hard and dirty work. But the promises begin to make their way through the cracks... the Truth begins to permeate the piles of rubble.
Then it happens. A fully exposed, movable gate appears. The growls are so faint they are now almost imperceptible. Only the gentle, loving voice of our Good Shepherd is heard, and his voice is so familiar. It's a the voice that has been muffled and shouted over, but never silenced.
Finally. We have the courage to open the gate, ever so slightly, and peek through. It's HIM. All of His Goodness. All of His Glory. The growls and the threats and the overwhelming and terrifying noise of the enemy was all... just... Noise.
So the veil is lifted. Eternity is now in hand.
Sometimes the cries of the enemy and all of his threats can cause such fear that we run from the promises of our Father. But he is RELENTLESS in his pursuit of us, for all eternity. He will keep waiting for the gate to be opened, for his sheep to hear his voice, for the prayers of the saints to help those that can't hear Him over the noise. Always pray for those who can't hear Him over the noise. Always.