One of the most stress-filled things I have ever done was
being an entry man on a SWAT team. Entry
men were the first members of the team to breach a door and cross the threshold
of a house to gain entrance. We never knew what was waiting for us on the other
side of the door.
Before making entry the team would gather around the
doorstep of the house and then kick in the door. My fellow entry man was taller than me so he
went high and I went low. If there was
going to be any altercation it would be in those moments right after the
splintered doorframe flew across the room and five heavily armed SWAT team
members entered the house to make an arrest.
How you crossed the threshold would determine if you lived
or died. It was serious business and is
literally a science in the world of police tactics. Our goal was never to get
to the other side and bring death. Our
desire was that through superior tactics whatever we encountered on the other
side would yield to our presence and life would be spared.
It has been many years since I was a member of a SWAT team. At this age, I would get myself in trouble if
I tried to do what my youthful strength allowed back then. Over the years I have come to realize that
all of life is filled with thresholds that can produce life and death depending
on how we prepare to make the crossing.
As I process the coming New Year, I want to share some of
the daily thresholds I cross and what I do to make sure that in the crossing I
bring life and not death to those I greet on the other side. I have not been
perfect in what I am sharing, but it has been a life goal of mine to try to do
Here are several of my daily thresholds:
THE THRESHOLD OF AWAKENING
As each of us awake in the morning our first conscience
thoughts are powerful and can direct the course of our day unless they are
captured. It is too easy to wake up and let a stressful calendar or a scheduled meeting with a difficult person set our
initial tone. I want the first thought in my mind to simply be the words,
“Thank you, Jesus.” I am not thanking God out of fear that I lived through the
night. I thank him simply because I am
alive in him – again. This first threshold is crossed with thankfulness.
THE THRESHOLD OF FIRST WORDS
I am usually up first.
As I exit the bathroom in the darkness sometimes I will hear Jan rustle
in bed. I let her choose to respond first
so as not to awaken her. When she hears
me and the dog walking towards the bedroom door she will usually say, “Good
morning.” My first words to my wife in
the darkness are, “Good morning – I love you.” This threshold is crossed with tender
THE THRESHOLD OF A NEW DAY
I set the coffee maker up before I go to bed. I like this
arrangement because in the morning all I have to do is hit the brew button on
my way through the kitchen in route to my chair where I will have my morning
devotions. When I arrive in the living room, I kneel at my chair and say the
same thing each day, “This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and
be glad in it.” I add a few more lines to this prayer, but these first words
from my mouth link my day with rejoicing. I cross this threshold by choosing to
have an attitude of joy.
THE THRESHOLD OF COMMUNION
A few years ago Jan and I began taking communion together
each day. It has been the most profound
devotional time for us as a couple. It only takes a few minutes. We use unleavened bread and pour some port
wine into a special chalice and remember him together. Our time of communion is many times filled
with confession and repentance. At other times we cross over praying for our
kids or the church. This threshold is crossed as we choose to remember
THE THRESHOLD OF WORK
Each day, as I turn onto Roberts Road and see our church
facility a few blocks away, I ask God to pour out his Spirit upon me and our staff
so that we can accomplish his plan for the day. What God wants to do each day
can only be accomplished in his power. This threshold is crossed when I remain
dependent on God.
THE THRESHOLD OF RETURNING HOME
A block or two before I arrive home I do a quick review of
my day and see what I need to unload on God before I get home and unload on
Jan. Sometimes this is a prayer of
repentance and other times it is simply choosing to be thankful for the person
and home to which I am returning. The threshold is crossed by not forgetting
that I have been given the gift of returning.
THE THRESHOLD OF THE EVENING
The Bible says to not let the sun go down on our anger. For most of the year there are several hours
between the setting of the sun and when we finally go to bed. Hours of unresolved anger and bitterness can
ruin an evening with our family. Crossing this threshold means engaging how we really
feel and choosing to turn off the TV and computers and getting things right so
that joy, not sorrow, is the atmosphere of our home.
THE THRESHOLD OF BEDTIME
Crossing this threshold is where we discover if we have been
honest with each other throughout the day.
Years ago I made a commitment that each night, when the lights went out
and we entered our bed, I would say, “Good night – I love you.” If I have any difficulty saying those words to
Jan the light comes back on and we deal with whatever it is that is robbing us
of peace. Crossing this threshold each
night requires uttering my commitment and being willing to deal with my pride.
Crossing thresholds is something each of us does
multiple times every day. Many times we
find ourselves allowing our emotions or the painful events from our day to
direct these crossings. We have the
power of choice. We can choose to do
these crossings differently and arrive on the other side healthy, alive and more in love with each other.
For the coming New Year make a resolution to investigate how
to better cross the daily thresholds of your life. It will make the threshold
of the coming New Year something to anticipate.