Back home in Alabama, right in the middle of downtown hidden off behind a few buildings near our city Civic Center, there stands a rickety old set of stairs. It’s like something out of an 80’s horror movie if you want me to be perfectly honest. It’s all rusted up and creaks and clangs when you walk on it. It leads from one elevated parking lot, down to a garden area that sits off the street. At the bottom of the stairs is an iron gate. I’m not sure if the gate is still there or even why it would be as there’s no fencing or anything that it connects to.
I thought about that gate when I first had the idea for this series. I couldn’t help but wonder what it once protected (or held in). Old gates like that are few and far between, but I’m fascinated by their presence whenever I come across one. There are a lot lining the Riverwalk alleys in Savannah, Georgia and we had a great many of them surrounding graveyards and blocking alleys in Wilmington. They’re always made of iron and they are always tall; prominent when standing against the things surrounding them. As if to make their authority known and their power irrefutable.
According to scripture, these types of gates were also prominent during Biblical times; serving to protect and guard cities and kingdoms from the onslaught of danger and destruction posed by adversaries. Gatekeepers were prominent figures whose purpose and the role was to serve as protector and watchman at these gates. Gatekeepers then were of great significance when it came to maintaining order and keeping out the enemy. It was necessary for a gatekeeper to be aware and alert; on guard and on the lookout for any sign of trouble, whether it was big or small. Gatekeepers worked to keep the enemy out and to maintain order within the walls of the city. Our primary journey in this life, if we have children, is to guard their spiritual journey.
One of my favorite sections of scripture comes from one of those underestimated books of the Bible—Nehemiah. One thing that stands out to me is the precision and intention that goes into rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem. Nehemiah outlines the precision with which the people tackled an obstacle that was way too big for their own undertaking. Yet, when the wall is rebuilt, it was the position of gatekeeper that Nehemiah appointed first.
However, in order to be a gatekeeper, we first have to build a gate. Gates work to keep things in or out. If we don’t guard their spiritual journey, who will? The gates we set up within our homes should do both. keep the evil and the sin of this world out and keep the presence of God and the power of the Holy Spirit in. There is great significance in the fact that the Sheep Gate was the first gate repaired in Nehemiah 3.
I did not realize that the Sheep Gate is the gate closest to the Pool of Bethesda until I began to study it. This was the location of one of Jesus’ great miracles (see John 5:2-18). It was at this pool that Jesus told the man who was an invalid for 38 years to get up and walk in order to be healed. As mothers, it is our job to give our children this same kind of tough love and this kind of push to do the things they think they can’t do. This man had been lying beside that pool, waiting for healing, for 38 years. Surprisingly, It took Jesus’ blunt and direct order to kick him into gear and finally get up and move. As mama’s, we often do the same thing.
However, the real significance of that Sheep Gate is what they used it for. The Sheep Gate was the only gate within the walls of Jerusalem that didn’t have locks or bars. They used it as a means to herd sheep into the city for sacrifice at the Temple. It was the only gate that was sanctified (making everything coming through it set apart for a purpose). When we are actively acting as the Gatekeepers of our home, we too, are herding our children toward the Lamb that is Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us that “He is the door” (src). It is through Him that we are sanctified and set apart.
Maybe it’s in the way we talk to them. Or, perhaps, the way we react to them when they misbehave. Or, simply the way we show them what it looks like to love like Jesus. There are a million opportunities to let them down because of our own sin, but there are also a million opportunities for grace. Our first and most important priority as Christian mothers is to direct our children to the only one who can and will ever give them everything they deserve—eternity with Him.
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More important than any other thing that we do as mothers, we are the gatekeepers of our home. Our primary responsibility, above all else, is to guard their spiritual journey. If you missed the introduction post for my Blessed are the Gatekeepers series, you can find that here! Each week I will be exploring the various ways that God has called us, as mothers, to guard the spiritual well-being of our homes and the role of women within the Kingdom. Be sure to subscribe to receive my emails about new posts in this series.