Monday, May 12, 2014

When God Closes a Door

   I’ve heard a million times, When God closes one door, he opens another.. and I’m sure you have too. That’s actually not in the Bible.. but I have found in my life that it is very true. Although that saying is not specifically in the Bible, there are so many stories in the Bible that show how God closes doors that I’m sure were assumed to be left open.

  In 1 Kings 17:3, Ellijah was placed by God by a brook which provided water, and fed by the ravens. Later on, the brook dried up. I’m certain that Ellijah felt like that door was shut in his face, and had to move. In Acts 16: 6, Paul was traveling and the Holy Spirit would not allow him to preach in two different places that he stopped. So although God does not clearly state that when he closes doors, he opens others.. He shows throughout the pages that closed doors to God are not the same as closed doors in this world. Closed doors in the world seem like an end. They seem like something that we cannot overcome. Closed doors can make us feel overwhelmed and discouraged, like we have failed and can’t move forward. It’s like those mazes we used to do in the coloring books as a child... the end is the end... you can’t go backward, you just have to stop, or start from the beginning and go down a different path. The world looks at closed doors and sees missed opportunities, wasted time and misdirected path.

 Thankfully, we don’t serve the world... we serve someone who sees the whole picture. My husband said one day that if you stretched a sheet of paper across an entire pulpit and poked a hole in it the size of a fingernail, you would begin to see the scope of eternity. What was seeing is but the tiny hole in the paper... when God sees the entire sheet. The world now is but a blink, the tiniest shimmer in the scope of eternity. You see, Gods closed doors aren’t dead ends, they are simply redirections. After Paul’s two closed doors, he saw a vision of a man asking for help in Macedonia. Those two closed doors before led to the gospel being brought for the first time to the European nation. Talk about a blessing from a closed door! What happened to Ellijah immediately after his brook dried up? He went to the home of the widow woman, who God miraculously fed and provided for, as well as her son and Ellijah while he was staying. Her son also died while Ellijah was there, and upon him praying and asking, God revived him! All of these things happened as a result of ‘closed doors’, and the obedience of Paul and Ellijah to move forward.

   What if Paul would have become discouraged? What if he would have been disobedient and stayed in the places where he believed in his heart he was to preach the gospel? If he would have pushed in and done his will there rather than going and allowing God to move? What if Ellijah would have preferred to stay there, hoping for rain so that the brook that had been his provision somehow filled up? The course of history would have changed… however; they did not see the closed doors as an end, but just Gods nudging them in a different direction. I’m sure if we could move back in time and speak to the apostle and the prophet that the stories from their perspective at that given moment would have been a bit different. I’m betting that at least for a moment they felt a little discouraged when something they believed so strongly was Gods will closed in their faces. I’m sure they at least seemed a little confused about why, because they believed they were doing exactly what God wanted them to do... I’m sure the redirection at least caught them off guard a little, and for at least a moment, they wondered if those closed doors really meant that another would open.

    It’s so difficult in our own lives to deal with closed doors. Especially when those doors are something we have ran toward so fast and hard, just waiting for the moment we could feel freedom in running through them. Closed doors can be discouraging and heart breaking. They can really feel like the end, if we allow them too. We can allow closed doors to shut things in our lives, to defeat us and end our purpose. God gives us free will, and thus allows us to move on our own devices if we so choose. We have done this before in the face of closed doors, decided to do things our way instead of Gods way and just moved forward. I can’t tell you how many times in our lives we have just sat by the dried up brook and waited for it to fill back up again. That’s not the answer. The answer is clear... closed doors are not an end, but a redirection.

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6: in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” 

  My family is learning a lot about closed doors. However, we no longer see closed doors in the same light. Sometimes it seems like they are all slamming around you, but the peace in our hearts of allowing them to shut rather than standing in the way is indescribable. I have no idea what God has in mind for our ministry, for our family. Perhaps he’s about to open a door to our ministry that we could never have imagined for ourselves. Perhaps he’s simply closing doors to allow us to refocus on our first ministry, which is being a family. Maybe he’s about to lead us to our “Europe” as he did with Paul, or perhaps like Ellijah he’s simply about to put us in a place where we are about to learn to trust him completely, to see his provision in our lives and to learn to have faith and be strong. However he chooses, God sees the bigger picture, and we trust that, and trust him. So although we are sad, we are also trusting. Although we are hurt, we are ready to heal. Ready to see what God has in store for us ahead, and so thankful for the wonderful things that we leave behind.

    So next time you think, “Well this is not what I had in mind…” or believe that God was leading you in a different direction, just try to remember, it’s easy to confuse “Gods will for ME” and “Gods will.” Sometimes you are simply a piece of the puzzle and sometimes you are the entire picture.. Allow yourself to be used by God, allow him to take you and put you where he needs you... and allow him to move you if he needs that as well. Concern yourself with eternity, rather than the present time. It’s amazing what God can do in our lives, if we are simply willing to give it to him to use as he pleases. Then, and only then can we really fully live and be able to do what we were created for.