The Gate of Eaven

16 01 2012

There’s always that one kid.

You know the one I’m talking about.  The one you secretly hope will not show up for youth group. The one you wish would just find Jesus…at some other church.

He started out in our after-school program and was the first to make the transition into Sunday night youth group. I don’t know much about his background, although I’ve gathered snippets of his story from talking to his brothers and cousin.  I know he’s seen more violence than anyone his age should.  There is a large scar across his cheek.  I’ve never asked how he got it.

He is hardened, sullen.  When he does come (which is not often), he picks fights and causes trouble. He enjoys the food, and he always plays basketball…but when we start Bible study, he prefers to sit on a chair away from the group, cracking dirty jokes under his breath.

Last night, when we divided into small groups, I had to send a volunteer to coax him out of his hiding place. He came in late and lay down on the floor beside me.

Our discussion continued as I asked the students to finish the sentence, “God is…” Their answers came flying back: “God is our Father!” “the Creator!” “Light!”

He lifted his head up, watching. “The gate,” he said, finally. “Isn’t he the gate of heaven?”

“Yes!” I said, handing him a pen. “Why don’t you write that down?”

He sat up, leaned forward, and painstakingly wrote the words onto the canvas. After that, he didn’t say anything else, but he didn’t lie back down, either.

When we sent the youth out to decorate their mirrors, he hunched over the small table, cutting shapes out of blue vinyl and then scrunching them up and tearing the edges as he saw fit.  When he was finished, he showed it to me proudly before setting it down with the others.

Later, as I was washing the etching cream off his mirror, I discovered that one of his letters had not stuck down and could not be seen. Oh no, I thought. It’s ruined.

But I went back to look at it after it had dried. The light shone down on it in a special way, and I realized: it’s perfect.

mirror image created by a student

What a metaphor.  The gates of heaven are not polished or even sanitary.  They’re a bit messy most of the time, and they have jagged edges.  But what makes them beautiful is where they lead.

To the Cross. To Jesus.




One response

16 01 2012

That story really touched me! He gets it!

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