You stand before a gate. Though you
cannot see beyond it, what lies there draws you.
voices than you can identify cry, "No, don't go there!"
whispers, "Something terrible will happen!"
snickers: "You? Go through? You can't even open the gate."
quo states, "You've always lived here."
adds, "And you always will."
you want to please chants in chorus, "Stay with us. Stay with us." Some smile and coax. Some cry and plead.
Yet one voice-one unmistakable voice-calls, "Step
through the gate."
Buffalo-riding & gate-opening 101
At an outdoor fair in Colorado Springs, I rode a mechanical bull — or more accurately,
a mechanical buffalo. Regardless, I didn't just pose atop the beast. In spite of everything that could have kept me from it,
I got on that bronco and rode.
Shortly before riding the bull, I stepped through a gate. In spite of everything that
could have kept me from it, I left behind one way of living life and embarked on a totally different one. I still experience
ups and downs. I still have spills. Yet, surprisingly, the spills don't shatter me. In this new place, I cannot express the
freedom and joy I've found, except to say, "Check out the picture of me riding the mechanical bull.
For me, that picture illustrates living life, not as a religious Christian,
but as a friend of God. It reminds me of the promise in Malachi 4:2, "And you will go out and leap like calves [or mechanical-bull
riders?] released from the stall" (NIV).
You know what? It's
alarmingly easy to name the name of Jesus, yet stop short of gates he has opened. It's alarmingly easy to get trapped in behavior
that appears godly yet produces what God hates. It's alarmingly easy to become a "religious Christian,"
imprisoned inside "stalls" Christ died to free us from.
Maybe you've been highly irritated or deeply hurt by religious Christians. As a result, you're skeptical about anything
related to God — especially the Christian God. Yet strangely it seems he is drawing you.
Maybe all your efforts at living life have left you exhausted and stuck. You're disappointed
with yourself, with the church, with God. Frankly, he seems demanding and distant. You have no confidence in your ability
to hear his voice. You doubt he has any desire to know you intimately or to trust you with important exploits. You do not
see yourself as a friend of God — yet the idea stirs a longing deep within you, like a gentle breath rekindling an almost-extinguished
Maybe you're living life with a growing
sense of unrest. Something is calling you to venture where you haven't gone before. You have no clue where this venture might
take you. By nature, you don't like risk. Frightened, yet fascinated, you wonder, "Can this be God? Do I dare follow?"
Maybe you love Jesus. You want to go wherever he leads. Ah, but
where he's taking you looks quite different from what you expected — and opposition from surprising sources (within
you and around you) has blindsided, confused and paralyzed you.
life as a friend of God requires removing whatever hinders you from knowing his voice. Living life as a friend of
God involves boldly going wherever he goes. It means letting go of some relationships — and then finding deeper
ones, as you connect more deeply with God himself, and he connects you with other people whom he calls friends.
Living life as a friend of God involves pain. Yet, pressing through the pain, you find
deep fulfillment. It requires risk. It releases joy.
Key truths for living life
Deborah Brunt, founder of Key Truths, Open Gates LLC. For decades, I lived life as a religious Christian. Most of those years,
I truly knew Christ. I did not know how much of what I thought and believed, did and said, reflected religious stuff
I'd been taught, rather than the mind of Christ.
I still don't see
everything clearly. I still find religious gunk clinging to me. But - Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! — I've stepped through
that first crucial gate.
Now, I'm learning how to live life as a
friend of God. Taking keys Jesus offers, I'm stepping through the next gate, and the next. Occasionally, I even mount a mechanical
buffalo and ride!
In the process, I'm connecting with others who
are living life the same way — or who desperately want to do so. I'm telling what I learn from those ahead of me and
alongside me on the path. I'm telling the sometimes stunning, sometimes hilarious, always life-giving things Jesus teaches
I've found: When you're living life as a friend of God, he always
wants to take you through another open gate. To help you leap through a few, I'm speaking out, offering key truths for living