I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10: 9)
The “in” part I have understood. Into salvation and understanding; into rescue and security; into rich fellowship with the Shepherd and the other sheep; into the assurance of the hope in Glory; into an agenda that is not my own.
But that going out part? I have heard it said out of training and into the living of it; out of security into the bumps and grinds of real living; out of the mountain-top experience and into the demon-plagued valley; out of the cloistered Jewish community and into a wide world of Gentiles and heathens.
What about out of fellowship with the Shepherd and into infatuation with some aspect of the world? Yes this does happen. The common story of the shepherd does include his searching out and finding the wayward sheep, and returning him to the flock. More than once.
Have I been wayward. Of course!
Has He found some way to show me the futility of such a position? Have I come back even more appreciative? Have I been motivated by the experience to speak even more enthusiastically of His grace to others? Have I grown in the thankful and reverent (fearful) heart? Have I developed a more sensitive ear to His whispered leading?
We are also told in the tenth chapter of John that the sheep know His voice, and will follow none other. I might go on to say that the sheep know each other’s voice, or perhaps the resonance of Christ’s in each other.
And we hear the Good Shepherd say “I lay down my life for the sheep”. What keeping power is there in that statement? What breaking of our own willfulness? What love creating the strongest of adhesives?