We have all lived long enough to have had the experience of heading forward in a certain direction, pleased that our plans for the future were going our way, only to have the door to that way slammed in our face. Sometimes we knew deep down that we were pursuing something we shouldn’t, and once we got over the disappointment, we realized that God was doing something for our good. It might take us a long time to be thankful for this interruption to our plans, but it was evident that God’s will was revealed in the slamming of the door.
There are other times though, that we make plans that seem to be in line with God’s will for us. There is a relationship that seems to be wholesome, or a job opportunity that would be a blessing. Perhaps we just want some close friendships who can encourage us in our Christian walk. We have prayed, made plans to move forward and see no red flags – just the promise of a bright future that seems in line with godly principles. That’s when a slammed door in our face is shocking and unsettling. A dear, godly person who was important in our life is taken from us long before we anticipated. A job that provided well for us and gave us good community is terminated and no prospects are on the horizon. We long for deep friendships and either a move takes them away from us, or friendships never really materialize, no matter what we try to do. Maybe a long-standing struggle with sin never really gets better, even though we have submitted ourselves to others for accountability and tried to pursue God instead of the temptation. What are we to think when God doesn’t answer these seemingly good prayers? Why won’t He open this door for us – we’re not seeking bad things!
Jesus spoke about these concerns through the apostle John in Revelation 3:8 when He spoke to the church in Philadelphia; “I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Unlike most of the letters to churches in Revelation, Jesus had no words of condemnation for them. This church was being faithful under persecution despite facing difficulties from both the gentiles and the Jews in the city. They were following God and living for Christ. Why was this happening to them? An earthquake had leveled their thriving church, yet 10 years later, they still could not rebuild. Their desire was a door of opportunity to re-establish a church in the city and be on good terms with the government and the Jewish community from which they had come. This door had been shut, and it was not going to open. Why would God block these worthwhile goals?
Governments and individuals may shut doors, but in truth, Jesus is the One who has authority and power over every closed or open door. Jesus saw them. He saw their faithfulness under pressure and their disappointment. Although they only had “little” power, He wanted to remind them that He was able to open doors that no one could ever close. Great. But what does that mean about the closed door right in front of me today? I’ve been faithful and what I want is not a bad thing. I would like a godly spouse, or children, or a closeness with friends or family members, or a livable salary, or victory over a besetting sin. Why won’t God open this good door for me?
When life slams a door in our face, what options do we have? We can try to open the door ourselves, either by banging or pushing on it, try to pick the lock, manipulate people or situations. We can park ourselves in front of the closed door, cry out at God, be angry and maybe even turn away from this God who won’t give us the good things that we know we should have. Another option is to accept that this door is closed and begin talking to Him about where He has provided an open door for us to go through. Did you notice that Jesus promised the church in Philadelphia that there was an open door?
It’s pretty obvious that God doesn’t think like we do. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways Myways,’ declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8. The plans we come up with only address surface issues. God sees things in a completely different way – more complex and beautiful than we do. We are thinking of our own desires and needs, but God looks at the way our life will impact others for His glory. His plan is different for a reason. He thinks beyond the immediate and beyond just our wishes. There are things He wants to do in and through us that will have an eternal impact.
So what should we do when we face the disappointment of a door that shuts in our face and leaves us without a plan? Instead of trying to force God to get on board or dig in your heels and refuse to accept his “no,” remind yourself that God DOES love you. Find scriptures that reinforce that truth and keep them uppermost in mind. Keep moving and keep being faithful as you wait to find that door that He has opened. Be encouraged that when He opens the door, no one can shut it. Be sure that you are looking with an open mind. God had some other plan for you, so the open door may not look like anything you had imagined. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing,” Isaiah 43:18-19. Could it be that the open door is not just about you, but an opportunity to serve someone else? Phillippians 2:4 stresses that we “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others,” Once we understand how very much our Lord loves us, we will begin to see that those closed doors are one of the ways He loves us and directs us to a higher purpose than we ever imagined for our lives.