PRINCIPLE: “When going out and coming in, be thankful for the cot.”
Being a counselor at summer camp had its privileges. One of them was the sleeping arrangements. Campers and counselors all slept in A-frame tents which had been constructed on wooden platforms. But while the campers slept in their sleeping bags on the floor, we counselors slept in sleeping bags on a cot. While there were several reasons for this privilege, one was tantamount. At ‘lights out’ time, we placed our cots in front of the tent door so no one could go in our out without our awareness. No one could sneak out, or even go out to the restroom, without our knowledge. And while it was sometimes frustrating for the campers to awaken us and then have to step over us, it was for the safety and well-being of the campers. Sometimes we had to remind them of that purpose. “When going out and coming in, be thankful for the cot.”
In reality, sleeping on the cot was not so much a privilege as it was a responsibility. The safety and well-being of the campers was upon us. But we weren’t the first ones to take up such a position. “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture…I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”(Jn. 10:9-10) Jesus took that position centuries ago. He took responsibility for our safety, our well-being, and, indeed, our very lives. Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise in Ps. 121:8 – “The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
What a wonderful truth to know! Once we come to God through Jesus Christ – once we enter into eternal life – we are part of a gated community. And Jesus is the gatekeeper. We go nowhere without His knowledge. Wherever we are, He knows we’re there. That means there, in that place, we can find pasture; our needs will be supplied. And no matter what choices we make, no matter what happens, we can always go back inside the safety, shelter, and pasture of our gated community – because Jesus be is always at the gate to welcome us back and let us in.
But as the gatekeeper Jesus also keeps out the wolves seeking to attack and destroy us (10:12-15 CEV). “Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don’t own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. Hired workers run away because they don’t care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep.” Whether going or coming we are under the protective care of Jesus.
To be honest, we must admit that there are times when knowing Jesus is at the gate frustrates us. Just knowing He’s there makes it difficult to go out to places we might want to go, and to do things we might want to do, of which He disapproves or from which He discourages us. We, like the campers, cant just get up and go out and do what we want to do; we have to check in with the Counselor – the gatekeeper – first. We just can’t step over or around the cot – it’s always right there in front of the entry. But it’s always for our good: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Here’s how some other translations state this glorious truth: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (New RSV) “I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.” (GNT) “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (NLT) “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (MSG) Get the idea? So “When going out and coming in, be thankful for the cot.”It’s there – Jesus is there – to guarantee our well-being. We know – because the cot on which He laid was a cross; He did give His life for us. And we can have life in all its fullness, richness, and abundance. So “When going out and coming in, be thankful for the cot.”