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Lenten Daily Devotional - Day 17 - 3/4/13

Devotional Scripture: John 10

Devotional Thought:

"Therefore Jesus said again, 'I tell you truth, I am the gate for the sheep." - vs. 7

Can there be a grander chapter of New Testament scripture than found in John 10? So much to cover.

For today, I want to offer a "re-write" of a devotional I wrote back in 2007 on this same scripture. This rewrite begins now with the introduction that . . .

The name of paternal grandfather was Hugo Adam Mang.

No, his friends did not call him HAM for short. He was simply "Hugo."

He grew up on a farm and was raised to be a farmer, but during the depression of the 1930's was able to find a job with the railroad - a job he was glad to get. He kept that job out of appreciation until the day he retired. It was a job on the midnight shift, and he never changed from midnights in all the years he worked on the railroad. Such was the level of his appreciation and thankfulness for getting a job when many others were losing theirs.

During the depression, my grandfather applied his farming skills to the backyard of his and my grandmother's home at 327 E. Mayfield Drive in San Antonio, TX. For many, many years, he would begin each February to prepare an old style home "Victory Garden" of tomatoes, squash, corn, black-eyed peas, green beans and okra, which would all be harvested the following fall.

Grandpa Mang wisely built a fence to separate his garden from the rest of the back yard, which he kept immaculate and precisely trimmed. In the middle of that fence was a large white painted gate, big enough for his wheelbarrow or pull-wagon to go through loaded with tools, or with the fruits of his labor.

Unless invited by my Grandfather to help him work in the garden, his grandchildren were not permitted to open the gate and go in unsupervised until after all the crops were harvested. Then all his grandsons were allowed to help pull up crops and engage in epic corn stalk "sword fights."

To be invited to walk through the gate into Grandpa Mang's garden was a wonderful honor as well as the blessing of his trust. It opened up my passion for raising plants and vegetables that I still have today, although I have moved toward doing so on a much smaller scale using container and small raised beds instead of long garden rows. I have some cold weather crops of broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, red leaf and green leaf lettuce growing and doing well right now.

To enter Grandpa Mang's garden was almost a spiritual experience. Working in his garden was something he very much enjoyed. Besides meal time, the only other time I saw my Grandpa pray was when he was in his garden. A couple of times I heard him refer to the garden gate as "the Gate to Heaven."

Jesus is our spiritual gate in life. As we come to know Him in our hearts, we are invited through "the gate" into a loving relationship with God. Out of that relationship comes our discovery of the passions we have for life and ministry to others.

Perhaps the effort we each make during this season of Lent . . . to make straight the paths that allow us to meet a joyful Easter . . . could include our preparing our spiritual gardens and gardening tools for the growing season to come.? Let's dust off our Bibles. Let's make our prayer places a little more comfortable. Let's refocus our attention on the areas of mission and ministry we have felt called to help with.

There is work to be done before there can be any kind of harvest.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

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