Everyone experiences slammed doors, either symbolically or literally. When easy access to something or someone stops, it hurts. We grieve what used to be. When an entrance to something new is unexpectedly blocked just as we are about to walk through, the disappointment can level us. We grieve the loss of the life we imagined might exist on the other side. In those halting moments, people may say things like:
“Sorry, not interested.”
“You and me? We’re through.”
“Your services are no longer required.”
“I’ve found someone new who makes me happy.”
“We decided to go a different direction with this position.”
“Family gatherings just aren’t my thing anymore.”
“You’re actually over-qualified for this job.”
At times, people firmly shut us out of their lives, organizations or businesses and say
People reject us for a variety of reasons but without explanation, our imaginations can run crazy. I remember one job I felt certain belonged to me. When I didn’t make the final cut, it surprised me. I called and inquired why. Turns out, the other final candidate possessed two more years’ experience than myself. That became the tie breaker. (Wish they’d shared that on the first phone call.) Knowing that helped somewhat, but I still lost the wind in from my sails.
When we are vetoed, Satan seeks to direct our responses. After the initial blow, our own insecurities and our enemy whisper negative ideas to us that contradict God’s written Word and the plans he’s spoken to us personally.
“This is probably a stupid dream anyway.”
“Who would ever want someone like me?”
“I’m too old to keep doing this….”
“Things will never work out for me.”
“I can’t keep hitting my head against closed doors.”
“I’m not _________________ enough.” You fill in the blank.
I love the word picture about open and closed doors which F.B. Meyer creates in his book, “Paul, A Servant of Jesus Christ.”
“Be not afraid to trust God utterly. As you go down the long corridor you may find that He has preceded you and locked many doors which you would have entered; but be sure that beyond these there is one which He has left unlocked. Open it and enter, and you will find yourself face to face with a bend of the river of opportunity, broader and deeper than anything you had dared to imagine in your sunniest dreams.”
I don’t want to forfeit the best God designed for me because I’m loitering outside of closed doors. Far better for me to keep looking for the ones that are opened wide in welcome, even when they don’t seem to be the kinds of opportunities and relationships which I imagined. As a professional daydreamer, I confess I’ve spent too much time in fantasies of what might be instead of developing my intimacy with the great I AM who knows what he destined me to be.
As we seek our wide paths, here are a couple more suggestions (the first two are in post one of this series) for knowing where they are.
God’s will is discovered in God’s presence.
In Exodus 36, we learn about the physical symbols God used to indicate his presence to the Israelite nation. If they wanted food, shelter, safety and victory over their enemies, they needed to follow the Cloud during the day and Pillar of Fire by night. Those who didn’t, became lost and died or captured, we can presume.
Some Christians spend their days chasing desires and asking God to bless them. Can you imagine the Israelites telling God where they were going and assuming the Cloud or Pillar would follow dutifully? Exactly. We will find our paths and our purposes when we do what Jesus commanded in Matthew and seek his kingdom first. That doesn’t simply mean doing your devotionals in the morning, then running your own show the rest of the day.
Just as the Israelites lived under the Cloud and Pillar of his presence, so too we must go about our days with that inner consciousness. We stay in step with him, not the other way around. When we are sensitive and soft-hearted towards him, he will tell us immediately when we’ve wandered away from him through carelessness or sin. If we grieve or quench the Holy Spirit inside of us, it becomes difficult for God to guide us. Imagine the Israelites staring at the desert floor all day instead of keeping their eyes on the sky.
God opens doors which match your gifts, talents, experience and nature.
All the Apostle Paul’s early years prepared him to become the man we know through his many books. His Roman citizenship, Jewish birth, education, hometown, relationships, experience in the synagogues, eloquent speaking technique all opened doors of opportunity for him, which were closed to others.
The same is true of you. If, you walk intimately with God, then everything which precedes this moment is preparing you for future assignments. For example, once I finally cracked my way into the education sphere, I thought that might be my world for many years. Not so. God used that season to awaken my dormant writing skills, to bring me here, to you. The discipline I developed to write hundreds of lesson plans back then is now what keeps me writing at my computer these days.
As you seek your next open door, don’t be afraid to journey past closed ones. It’s all part of the process of fulfilling our destinies.