A few years ago, my family owned a pair of Schnoodles. Some dub these “yapping” dogs, and Shadow and Spook lived up to that classification. On one dark summer night around 1:00 am, the sibling yappers incessant barking caused my wife to elbow me in the ribs.
“Listen to that,” she said groggily. “Can you please go check on the dogs?”
I groaned, rolling out of bed. As I neared the back door, their agitated yips crescendoed, sounding as if both took turns sucking helium from a tank. I peered into the darkness. The silhouettes of the two canines circled the object of their excitement. Half asleep, I eased barefoot into the yard to snatch up the toy both “youngsters” tussled over. As I stooped over, a hissing breath warmed my fingertips. I jerked back and sprinted to the porch.
My adrenaline on overdrive, I stared into the inky black, this time a pair of menacing eyes glowered back. I dashed inside and grabbed a flashlight and broom, preparing to venture outdoors. The light’s beam spotlighted an angry opossum. The dogs pranced about, feigning attack, cowering when the old-she opossum lunged. Coaxing the dogs away, I confronted the critter with a long handled broom. With flashlight tucked under my chin, I prodded the animal with the broom handle. The opossum stood her ground. I jabbed, she hissed. I jabbed, she hissed. With no other option, I utilized the bristled end and commenced sweeping the opossum across the yard.
Each shove evoked a hissing growl but little else. The varmint refused to beeline out the open gate. For several feet, I swept the opossum across the lawn. Finally, at the exit point, I pretended to hold a Callaway Driver, and with a grunting swing, catapulted the opossum into the neighbor’s backyard. She hissed through the air like a deflating balloon. I fought the opossum and won.
The next morning I detailed the adventure to my wife. As most do, she found the encounter humorous. Some later explained, had I grabbed the opossum by the tail, she would have curled into a tight ball, and I could have toted her off, making the expulsion easy. Yeah, right. Had I even known the trick, there’s no way I would have grabbed on to the tail of an ugly, hissing creature. In my mind, only one option for banishment presented itself. There was only one way. The gate.
Shortly after this experience, I brought a sermon at our church and shared this story. Raucous laughter erupted from the congregation as they envisioned me battling the intruding marsupial. “One way,” I shared. “One way to get her out.” This illustration afforded me the opportunity to share God’s plan of salvation. Just as I focused on the gate as the only avenue to set the opossum free, God implemented one way of salvation, a gate as well. Jesus tells us in John 10:9, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” But it’s our choice.
I forced the opossum through the gate; she had no other option. God, however, treats us differently. In His great love for us, He affords us the opportunity to come to Christ without arm twisting. In Revelation we see Jesus standing at the door, knocking. He does not barge in, splintering the door; He patiently waits for us to invite Him in.
God offers us a choice…salvation or separation. While there’s still time, choose salvation. Accept Christ. Enter through the gate.