Many years back, my family and I went on a cruise for vacation. While we were at one of the ports, we took a city tour to see how the locals live and to experience their customs and traditions. I like to go off the beaten path to really get a feel for the places we visit and to see what it would be like to actually live there instead of only doing touristy things. We all piled into a taxi van and asked the driver to take us on a tour of the city to see places that people don’t normally get to see. The one thing I noticed as we started driving was that each home we drove by had a fence around it with a gate guarding the entrance. Some homes had simple fences and gates while others had very elaborate walls with thick gates, but I don’t remember seeing any house that did not have a gate and a fence around it or some sort.
Some of these gates and fences were enormous…even larger than the homes inside the fenced area. To call these structures fences would really be an injustice. They were actually thick perimeter walls with barbed wire running across the top. The money spent on these walls and gates seemed to be excessive considering the size of the home it was protecting, or at least what I could see from my view inside the taxi, so I asked the driver why there was such a need for these gates and fences.
The driver told me that the crime rate inside the city was very high and that unless you stayed in the touristy areas, it was a bit dangerous! Of course, the first thing that entered my mind was that this would have been good information prior to driving through this area! I asked if the barbed wire was really necessary to keep people out or if it was just people going overboard with their security, possibly in an attempt to outshine their neighbors gate. The driver said people really do try to climb over the walls if they think there is something in the house of value, so if you had something valuable in your house you should probably get a big fence and a big gate to keep people out. On the other hand he said, if you didn’t really care about what was in your house and didn’t care about people breaking in, then a good gate was not that important.
Seeing these huge gates that people were installing to keep people out made me think about the Garden of Eden. The first time we hear about a gate in scripture is in Genesis when God drives Adam and Eve out of the garden and posts an angel at the gate with a flaming sword to guard in every direction. “So God drove the man out; and at the east gate of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” – Genesis 3:24. Everyone has a gate of sorts. For example, you have a front door on your house which you more than likely keep closed and locked at all times. A door is really just another gate if you think about it. Inside your home is where you keep all your valuable possessions and where you feel safe and comfortable.
Do you allow anyone entry to your home that wishes to gain entry, or do you carefully select who enters? Do you have an open door policy for your home so that anyone that sees your home can enter into it anytime of the day or night? If you are like most people you probably lock your front door, carefully selecting who gains entry into your home. You protect and guard your family and everything else in your home to keep it safe, but are you doing the same for your soul? It seems as though it is easy to gain access into people’s souls, as many people do not utilize the gatekeeper mentality for themselves, nor do they teach their children how to be effective gatekeepers. The gates to your soul are your eyes and your ears. What you see and hear enters into your mind and your thoughts, just as what your children see and hear enters into their souls.
Your thoughts are where your conscience lives and your spirit is guided by your conscience. So what you see and hear does affect you spiritually. Our bodies are temples for the Lord. Since God lives within us we need to restrict access through our gates with what we hear and see so we can restrict what enters into our souls through our gates. You wouldn’t allow just anyone or anything to enter into your house, and it is just as important to be selective about what enters into your spiritual life by what you see and listen to. This is also important to teach your children from a young age, but it’s never too late to start teaching them to be more effective gate keepers.
Your Job As A Parent
As parents, you are the gatekeeper for your family. Today, there seems to be countless gates and access points for outside influences which may feel as though effective gate keeping is an impossible task to accomplish. Simply being aware of the things your kids look at and listen to is not enough. It’s also not realistic to think that, as a parent, you will successfully be able to oversee every minute of your child’s day to make sure they are only allowing good to enter into their “garden”. The one thing you can do is to teach them how to be a more effective leader. Leaders are able to self-regulate and have the courage and fortitude to guard their souls against spiritual attacks.
Leadership is the foundation of our Catholic faith and the one tool we can equip our children with so they can learn to win the spiritual battles they face on a daily basis without you being there to fight for them. To think that you will always be next to your child throughout their life to fight every battle is not practical, or logical. Right now, as you read this, your child is probably not next to you. That means there is an opportunity for a spiritual battle to take place that you are not there to fight.
These facts should not instill fear into parents…they should however give parents the desire to learn how to make their children more effective as leaders. Adventure Catholic offers parent/teen retreats, formation leadership training for parents and teens, and training tools that help your children win these spiritual battles. It’s never too late to start teaching your children how to be leaders who are fortified in their faith. Help your children become better gate keepers today…call or email us for more information.
Contact Adventure Catholic today to see how you can have us come to your parish or ministry for a parish mission talk, motivational speaker, keynote speaker, or for retreat information.