I stepped back on the front porch, pushing away my husband’s hug. “Just go!” I said, tears clouding my eyes. I wrapped my arms around my body, yet there was no comfort to be found in them. Dejected, my husband slowly turned and tossed his flight bag into the bed of his truck.
Watching him open the car door, my heart lurched. I was all too aware of the risk. Each goodbye could be our last goodbye. I rushed off the front steps and threw myself in his strong arms, allowing my sobs to shake our intertwined bodies.
This happened 20 years ago, but the raw emotions are as close as my next breath. When my husband and I married he embodied everything my young heart had prayed for. He was (and still is) a godly man of character and strength, and so dang handsome in his flight suit. But any romantic notions I had of being married to an Air Force pilot came crashing down alongside the Twin Towers the morning of September 11, 2001.
While my husband navigated the skies in and out of combat zones, I stayed behind at home, trying to ward off loneliness and fear. Often he was called away with a few days’ notice, but like a good soldier, I mustered my courage to single-handedly nurture our growing family as my husband missed another round of birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. As the months ticked away, my bitterness grew and took root in my heart. One day I had it out with God.
Have you ever experienced one of those moments when your anger builds to such velocity that you audaciously reproach God for all that is wrong in your life? I shook my fist and shed hot, angry tears. Eventually the anger dissipated, leaving behind the all-too-familiar ache of loneliness and fear. I prayed, “If this is my lot for the rest of my days, then teach me to live it well.” But could I flourish on such brittle ground, ground littered with the landmines of a million goodbyes?
Of course, as God would have it, I was studying the book of John at the same time. Curled up with a cup of tea and a handful of Thin Mints, I remember reading, “I am the Door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and 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” (John 10:9-10 ESV).
Feeling washed with hope, these words offered the refreshing waters my parched soul so desperately needed! Jesus doesn’t merely portion out enough life for us to scrape by; He offers life abundant in the here and now.
Approach God In Every Season
Popping another Thin Mint in my mouth, I realized for the first time this passage doesn’t say the sheep go in the door and stay in. John 10:9 says they “go in and out and find pasture.” If we are to find abundant life in Jesus, we must repeatedly walk through the door again and again. No matter how brittle our landscape, Jesus desires to lead us to green pastures.
It was an uphill lesson to learn, but slowly I applied this scripture to my life. In moments of loneliness, I walked through the door, drawing near to God in worship. When grief overwhelmed me, I walked through the door, and beseeched the God of all comfort to be near. When fear crept in, I walked through the door, asking the God of the Universe to make Himself larger than the fear gripping my heart. When I was exhausted from single handedly managing our children to the point I lost my temper and snapped at them, I walked through the door, seeking God’s forgiveness to wash over me.
And even though the hues of our stories differ, the paint remains the same. You too can open the door to abundant pastures. No matter what you are going through, wear deep ruts through the Door and into His abundant pasture. I promise, Jesus’ offer of abundant life will become an oasis in your desert.
For more encouragement during hard seasons, listen to this podcast episode: How to Handle Real-Life Struggles That Challenge Your Faith – 112