Jesus said he came to the earth so that we can “have real and eternal life, more and better life than we ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10 The Message)
I wonder what that life can look like?
Jesus spent a lot of time telling people what God is like. He told them God is closer to them than they think, and He loves and cares for them more than they realise.
But they had no idea what he was talking about.
People already had their beliefs about God sorted. Their family, religion and culture had taught them all they thought they needed to know about God. They had their God in a box and were not interested in listening to anything that did not match what they already believed.
But beliefs are not truths. Two of us can believe the exact opposite about the same thing. And so we need help to explore what we know and believe.
That is why Jesus told stories. A story floats into my mind and bypasses my rigid thinking. It gives me the freedom to explore a whole different perspective. It allows me to see things with new eyes and new understanding. It is a powerful way to teach me things that I might otherwise find difficult to grasp.
In the story that is around the verse in John chapter 10 Jesus is using an every day example of a shepherd and his sheep to show those who were listening how much God knows them, loves them and cares for them. Those who stay within God’s care, like sheep staying in the protection of the shepherd, will have everything they need to flourish.
They will have more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
Dibs: in Search of Self * is a modern day true story about finding freedom to flourish as who you are.
Dibs was a very troubled little boy, born to parents who were highly intelligent but emotionally immature. They had no idea how to relate to the child they produced and were so gripped by their own anxieties about parenthood that they were unable to love and protect him. They treated Dibs like a thing rather than a person and routinely locked him up, isolated and punished him, leaving him alone in a strange type of prison.
As a result, when he arrived at school age 5, he was a very damaged little boy. Sometimes he sat under the desk all morning mute and unmoving, unable to relate to other children or his teachers. Other times he had violent temper tantrums. His parents thought he had some form of brain damage.
But the teachers saw him differently. Behind the strange behaviour they saw a little boy who was bright and curious yet locked inside a distorted world that had been built around him.
The thrill of this story is the arrival of Miss Axline, a Play Therapist. She met with Dibs, one to one, for an hour each week in her play therapy room, giving him freedom and affirmation as he acted out his world through play. Gradually, in this safe, loving and non-judgmental environment, he learned to explore a new reality, a real life in which he had value as a person. He explored what it was like to have his choices and needs validated. He learned the joy of relationship and the value of others. He emerged from his fear and rage into a courageous, brilliant little boy who took his place in the classroom and within his family. He helped his parents learn to love.
After only one year of meeting with Miss Axline Dibs was flourishing. Freed to be himself he was able to lead a life that was more and better than anyone dared dream was possible.
Miss Axline was like a shepherd to Dibs. Do you know anyone who is a shepherd to you today? Or is there anyone you can be a shepherd to?
Dibs lived in a sort of prison built on the lies he believed about himself and the world he inhabited. Beliefs are not truths. Do you hold on to any beliefs that limit you or even imprison you?
*Dibs: In Search of Self by Virginia Axline. Penguin Books 1966