An oily, forehead mark on a glass door tells a story. Years ago, a salesman spent time in our home, pitching for us to buy his product. When he realized we’d not be allowing him beyond our foyer, he opened our interior front door with a gusto saying, “Well, thanks anyway for your time.” In his haste to make a quick exit, he forgot about our second, exterior glass door and plowed into it, full throttle, face first.
The resounding thud startled all three of us and caused him to stagger backwards, towards us. Ken and I dug deep for every fruit of the Holy Spirit to keep from laughing. His wire-rimmed glasses bent in two different directions, smashed into his nose and eyebrows. A red mark formed quickly on his forehead. We expressed our concern (we’d both done the same thing on the same door) and asked him if he’d like to sit down for a moment and fix his glasses. Like a true door to door champion, he gushed, “Oh, I’m fine, just fine. I’ve got another pair in my car,” and let himself out the door where he proceeded down our sidewalk in a cockeyed fashion.
I’ve let my forehead mark on many doors, physically and metaphorically. We all know that feeling of body slamming a firmly shut door. We are turned down for job opportunities, relationships, dreams we pursue, organizations in which we desire membership and many other life experiences that involve open and closed doors. I mean, I tried out for cheerleading and pom poms girls three times before I realized God never designed that into my destiny.
It hurt deeply when friends achieved what I wanted, be it a cheerleader uniform or a lead in a play. Now I understand that setbacks are part of our training in God’s school of discipleship. Greater humility, a deeper desire to listen to God, discernment and lots of other good stuff can occur during these times.
In some instances, we are on the inside and must endure the pain of being pushed towards an exit which will then shut firmly behind us. Whether it’s the end of a marriage, career, ministry, home ownership, our health or anything we value, the sting of our departure can stick with us a long time, especially when we didn’t leave by choice.
This month I’ll discuss entrances and exits. God’s word says much about our ins and outs, ups and downs. Unlike people, God will never shut a door in our face maliciously, but he does close them. Sometimes, he swings that same door open for us down the road. Conversely, every lit path isn’t an entrance into adventure with God. An appealing opportunity can turn out to be an unwanted side trip away from our destiny.
How do we find our way to the doors God designed for us to walk through and minimize smashing ourselves into an unmoving object? Here’s a few guidelines:
God’s opportunities never contradict his Word.
I’m concerned when people plow through God’s boundaries to walk through a doorway. Marrying an unbeliever, engaging in an unethical business venture, sacrificing your health or family relationships, becoming unfaithful in church attendance and service to others are all things I’ve observed people do for the sake of a great opportunity.
God will never invite you to work alongside him in a way that leads you to disobey his commands and principles. If you are currently engaged with someone or something that causes you to behave like the world, ask God for the way out. You are walking a hard path that will not end well. “Good judgement wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction.” Proverbs 13:15
God’s opportunities can start with small beginnings.
During the end of my years as an educator, I sought to teach English. I’d been a minister of music for many years and taught vocal music and piano for many more. I longed to flex the Language Arts Degree I’d worked for so diligently. I turned down jobs to teach vocal music again until one came along I felt no peace about rejecting. Once again, I started up as a music educator and gave it my all, but my heart still longed to teach writing, literature and poetry. In the Spring of my first year, my principal unexpectedly asked me if I’d like to take over sophomore English classes for the upcoming year and beyond. Boy, did I, and loved it until the day God led me on to the next thing.
Sometimes, we overlook an open door because it’s small. Ken and I say that we never want to miss Jesus riding on a donkey. The Jews of Jesus’ time believed the Messiah’s coming to be a momentous earthly event. They believed he’d overthrow the Roman government and rule the world in their here and now. Clearly, they didn’t study the O.T. prophets well, as Jesus fulfilled every prophecy made about him. People living alongside Jesus, missed the King of Kings, walking and riding in their midst.
Be careful not to miss something God brings your way because it doesn’t look exactly like you imagined. My pastor often tells the stories of his early days as an evangelist, sleeping in Sunday School rooms and being paid with offerings that featured more “love,” than money. My husband’s successful run as the owner of an insurance agency started with him applying for the job of office manager.
Next time, we’ll examine more ideas for discerning God’s purposes and will for us. Between now and then, check out the lives of the Apostle Paul, (Acts and the Epistles) the apostle John (Revelation), King David (2nd Samuel) and Joseph (Genesis). These great faith heroes all imagined their lives rolling a lot differently than the paths God chose for them. Greatness in the kingdom comes hand in hand with sacrifice, obedience and faith.