Asbury United Methodist Church
Love - Share - Tell - Serve

December 30, 2010

We’re having a tremendous Thursday! AND, 2010 is just about outta here!

Today is a good day to do some more thinking about the new year that’s just around the corner. Do you have any “iron gates” in your life?

Peter had him one giant iron gate and it was the real McCoy…a literal iron gate. He was in prison awaiting his execution.

The church back in the day had virtually no power at all, so needless to say it possessed no human means either political or otherwise to set Peter free. There simply was no earthly help available to him.

But, that is not to say his situation was hopeless. We are told the church prayed earnestly for him.

God responded to Peter’s dilemma by sending an angel. We are told the angel struck him on the side and told him to get on up out of there. The angel then told Peter to wrap his cloak around him and to follow him to freedom! Peter was so mixed up that he thought he was dreaming. Next, the two of them come to an iron gate and it opens all by itself. [Acts 12:5-10]

I can see this all playing out in my mind. A nasty prison cell. Peter is in prison and pretty much out of options. He is waiting to die. Then in the eleventh hour, God does something inhuman. He sends an angel and the iron gate that has him hemmed in just opens all by itself. This action is completely out of Peter’s control. But nothing is out of God’s control.

I don’t know about you but there have been times in my life when I have felt like a bird stuck in a cage and a giant iron gate has me locked in. I suppose everyone feels like this once in a while. Perhaps as a bird, you too have beaten against the bars until you are tired, exhausted and have one major headache.

The “iron gate” times for me are those times when problems seem insurmountable and no human solution exists. The “iron gate” times are when we feel trapped and have no place left to turn. Maybe some of life’s choices have caught up with us. Maybe we seem to be having a run of bad luck that we cannot dig out of. Maybe we have a broken family dynamic that seems incurable.

An “iron gate” time can also be a barren season. A barren season is not necessarily a dark valley or dark time of the soul but just a time when we cannot seem to produce anything. A barren wilderness of the soul can feel exactly like an iron gate is trapping our progress. We can even digress to the point that we consider what Merle Haggard sang about, “…the good times are really over for good!”

Today is good days to realize that “iron gates” are never the end of the story. “Iron gates” are temporary. Furthermore, they can be times of tremendous growth and renewal. An “iron gate” time may allow us to see God’s movement in our midst and help us to see that there is never a time when we are left totally alone, to our own devices. The presence of the Holy Spirit can never leave us.

The advent of a new year provides a line of demarcation for us, giving huge incentive for us to look ahead instead of dwelling behind. “Iron gates” were meant to be passed through and today we’re movin’ on!

Comments

comments

2 Comments

  1. Pat Wayne Pat Wayne
    December 30, 2010    

    As always a wonderful story….thank you for all the time and hard work you put
    into these wonderful devotions…..I felt like you were talking straight to me….
    So with God’s help, I’ll keep on keeping on…..meaning since Jimmy’s death
    I feel so empty…and everyday is like a big black hole….
    Trying tho….
    love to you and your family
    Pat

    • Jimmy Jimmy
      December 31, 2010    

      Pat,

      I still think of you often and lift you in prayer. You were especially strong on my mind during Christmas. Holidays sure can be touch on those of us who grieve. I’ll continue to pray for you and yes, keep on keeping on…after all, we’re never alone in this world even though it may seem so at times. Love you, Jimmy

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