Essentials for the Journey
Week 4 of Lent – Shelter: Discovering Security

So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’
—John 10:7-11

Written by Pastor Rushan, Senior Minister
The idea of shelter makes me think about rain and wind and storms and of gratitude when I am safe inside, warm and dry. What about you? What does the idea of shelter make you think of? The people who live under the shelter of the bridges in their makeshift shelters? Perhaps it is somewhere you go in your own mind to protect yourself from whatever trouble is coming your way. It may also be the warmth of our own home where we can come back to after a long day, close the door and sink gratefully into a comfortable chair with a sigh of gratitude.
Whatever we think of as ‘shelter’ it is essential for any form or type of journey. We need to know that we have somewhere safe in which to rest. That sense of safety is vital for our well-being, it allows us to not only survive but also face the storms with more courage and determination.
Although we are probably more familiar with the second image in the passage of Jesus as the Good Shepherd calling the sheep home, protecting them from wolves and risking everything for their well-being, in this passage Jesus also states that he is the gate that provides a safe place for the sheep. That is not all. In John 10:7-17 Jesus declares himself to be not only the person who cares for the sheep and brings them home, but a part of that home as well. The word Jesus uses of himself in verse 7 is a general word for entrance way. It simply refers to the way you can get into a place. On one level,  Jesus is the means by which you can gain entrance. It soon becomes clear however, that this is not the only meaning here. When we add it to the Good Shepherd saying, it becomes clear that Jesus, as the door, provides safety for those inside.
Jesus models for us, and indeed offers us, safety balanced with freedom, security with independence, sanctuary with true liberty. We all need in our lives to find this balance that gives us a sense of home without locking us in, a place to rest without undermining our confidence to face the world ‘out there’. The shelter that Jesus brings gives us refuge from life’s storms but does not expect that we will stay in that haven for ever.
As I’ve been thinking about this reading these past few weeks and reflecting on the themes of safety and security several questions have popped up for me. Questions like…
Is it possible to risk everything while still being safe?
If it is possible, what does it tell us about the nature of safety?
Is being safe the same as being risk free?
Are there times when it is necessary to risk things in order to achieve safety?
The most important thing in all this is that Jesus Christ provides for us true safety in a world buffeted by danger and anxiety. The fourth spiritual essential for real life is shelter from the storm, brought by the one who is prepared to risk his own life to keep us safe. Because we find our security and safety in Jesus Christ and in God, we are able to step out, take risks and enjoy the adventure of faith and of life.