- On our cruise ship a few weeks ago, there was a basketball court on the top deck. It had a really high fence! You would have to almost intentionally throw the ball over the fence to put it out of the court. And guess what? If you did, you wouldn’t have a basketball anymore – it would be floating in the ocean. That fence was definitely to keep the ball in, to limit, to contain.
- Then there are fences to keep people or things out – like the ones at a construction site in a TV show. The fence would be high to keep the thugs from coming in and stealing or vandalizing. And it works too – except for the small holes cut on the backside that people could slip through. This fence is designed to keep out, to protect.
- Sometimes fences are only for decoration – like the ones at Seaside, where each house has its own little decorative flair. Those fences don’t keep anything or anyone in or out; they are just for looks.
- Prisons also have fences, sometimes multiple ones… These fences are monitored – and they are there to keep everything in and/or out. Definite boundaries set by institutions and governments and laws.
What kind of fences do I have?
- Do I have the ship’s basketball fence? To protect me from throwing away my toys or stepping too far away from the goal or losing my focus?
- Or is my fence more like a construction fence – keeping my stuff protected from those in the big bad world who would take from me and make a mess of my life?
- Maybe my fence is just a storefront that is really not a fence at all – just a mask?
- Or maybe my fence is more like the prison fence – with such strict guidelines that nothing (and no one) can get in or out without a lot of determination and effort?
In the passage below, Jesus says He is our gate and gatekeeper. Amazingly, He is willing to bear the burden of defining my boundaries if I’ll allow it – He will guide my heart and my steps in the world. All I have to do is listen to His voice, the Good Shepherd. He promises those who listen to Him will have life – better than they ever dreamed of…
“Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.