choosing the better gate

If you’ve read The Secret Garden, you remember well the day Mary Lennox finds the garden gate. Covered in overgrown vines thick as the apprehension we feel as she turns the key for the first time, the door opens to a wonderland which eventually blossoms with joy and healing.

Not every secret gate opens to such blessings.

While mosey-ing along in writer-reasearch-mode this past weekend, I browsed various web sites and books about a couple of controversial, faith-related subjects. When I stuck close to well-respected, proven Christian authors and websites, I felt peace and confidence. But as soon as I veered onto web pages touching on pagan and non-scripture-based views, I felt darkness and doom like a cloud covering my soul.

Quick! Click away from that page! I thought.

Sometimes I did.

Other times, the lure to investigate other viewpoints kept me in those dark places much longer than I should’ve been.

And afterwards, I felt slimed.

In hindsight, I thought I was “Christian enough” not to be impacted by the evil. I thought my shield of faith and all the other armor was enough to ward off any residual ick.

For the most part, I’m okay.

But the experience opened my eyes to just how thin the tightrope is between good and evil in the world. Sometimes, as in the case of my purposeful research, it’s pretty obvious when a door is opened into places we shouldn’t peek into.

Other times, we find ourselves in dark places without realizing we’ve been lingering in them for a good, long while.

It made me realize, as a writer sharing words, how important it is for me to check what I’m inputting into my mind. I don’t want anything coming through my pen which could leave even the slightest smudge of information that could mislead anyone through a gate of trouble and darkness.

Needless to say, I ran back through the gate and into the arms of Philippians 4:8, which is my prayer today as I write and live:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (Phil. 4:8-9 The Message)

Sometimes it’s good to be re-awakened to things in the world which need God’s light and truth, so we can be torch-bearers for others who might be stuck there.

Sometimes, it’s just plain scary to learn about them, and it’s better to run the other way.

How about you? Do you ever find yourself knee-deep in dark places without realizing you’ve gone there? How do you protect yourself from such moments, and/or what do you do if you find yourself lingering there?

6 thoughts on “choosing the better gate

  1. Amy, you are so right! I stopped reading most secular novels and listening to secular music two years ago. It has made a huge impact. More than I realized. Here’s to filling our minds with Godly things!

  2. Oh, Amy, I am s-o-o with you on this. I try to be so careful what I absorb so that just as you stated, “I don’t want anything coming through my pen which could leave even the slightest smudge of information that could mislead anyone through a gate of trouble and darkness.” Awesome! Sometimes, I think we as Christ followers are not careful enough, thinking that if I read this, look at this, or listen to this, it won’t bother me. There’s no harm. I don’t believe that for an instant. Bless you for this, Amy!

  3. I often tell my youngest daughter to “Philippians 4:8 gate” her thoughts. And now as she has (limited) access to the Web, I am guiding her to be careful where she wanders.
    Yes, I have to be careful too — especially with what I read because growing up I wasn’t taught to be discerning about the books I read.

  4. I occasionally force myself to do this: “Sometimes it’s good to be re-awakened to things in the world which need God’s light and truth, so we can be torch-bearers for others who might be stuck there.”

    But oh my goodness, when I do, I get so sad and it takes me a while to get out of “the darkness and doom like a cloud.” People are so blind to the darkness – and are even quite comfortable in it – and sometimes holding a torch out to them just pushes them further away from the light… Makes it hard to want to keep trying, but we must…

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