“You didn’t close the door!” hollered an incensed voice from the boy’s bedroom last night.
When you’re changing into your pajamas you can understand why an open door might cause commotion. It’s been a long-standing sore spot in our home when those who are dressed walk out and fling a bedroom door open, revealing to the world (or at least whoever is standing in the hall) anyone still unclothed. Plenty of tears and spats have erupted from that single discourtesy.
We like closed doors—when we are on the inside. Behind the door, privacy reigns and quietness is king. We create our own atmosphere and breathe our own ideas without interruption.
And we can change our clothes in peace.
The effect is opposite when we are outside a closed door. Last week a child angrily informed me that he was locked out of the house by a sibling. The door that meant security and privacy from the inside, now spelled exclusion and discomfort. That closed door was a weapon, a movable wall, and through the window a small child could laugh in triumph at the fuming face on the other side.
I’ve had flashes of concern about being locked out while rustling in my pocket to make sure I have keys--after I shut the locked door. This is not an unreasonable fear. I’ve locked myself out of a running vehicle, and years ago I locked us out of our apartment. Thankfully, a friend with lock-pick tools rescued us that time . . .
These days, I’m learning to thank God for closed doors—even when it feels like I’m on the outside.
Melissa and I asked the Lord for open doors several months ago—somewhere to go for provision and something to do for His kingdom. He’s given all the light we’ve needed for each step forward but the open door I was looking for hasn’t appeared. At times, I feel like a blind man groping along an endless wall, feeling for cracks—something to indicate the edge of a way through the impossible. But I haven’t found it.
What I have found are more closed doors. I applied for jobs—and was rejected. I contacted clients—and had nice connections but no gold mine. I’ve pressed forward with writing—completing the book that has been three-and-a-half years in the making, learning new skills, making new acquaintances, and renewing old friendships. But what do you do when you join the ranks of approximately six million other Americans who stand in line with their manuscripts in their hands? Something special needs to happen. God needs to open a door.
Until He does, can I thank Him for the closed doors?
Outside closed doors, Melissa and I have spent concentrated time seeking the Lord together as we haven’t for years. We’re confident God cares for us and that He won’t leave us standing in the cold. At the right time, in the right place, He’ll open a door. Until then, we seek for Him.
Perhaps the process is the greatest end, finding Him afresh is real objective.
In the meantime I’ve started thanking God for closed doors while praying for a door to open. We need direction, and a closed door directs as clearly as an open door. “Don’t stop here,” it says. “Keep going. This is not the way for you.”
I find that it isn’t hard to thank God for closed doors that I didn’t want to go through anyway. I can say “thanks” without much emotional drama. But some doors seem to open to a world that I really want to enter. Can I thank God if He closes those doors?
It takes faith to go through an open door when enemies are marching on the other side. It takes faith to go through doors opening on uncertainty. It even takes faith to step into promise, when that promise is untried.
But it takes faith to stand outside closed doors, too. Walled out from what we think we need, we grope on, walking with God in the dark, concentrating on the next step when we have no idea where the road leads.
We’re on that long road of waiting.
The first shock of our need is past. God provided for us in astonishing ways, beyond imagination. Unexpected gifts from unexpected places have kept us solvent. Just yesterday, we were surprised by a large gift from an unknown friend. I’m glad my children get a chance to experience the joy of walking with Him, trusting Him when we cannot see. They’re old enough now that they’ll never forget what we’re learning together on the road of waiting.
Busyness has crowded my days even through the normal work flow is only a trickle. I’ve pressed into the hours with a zeal and determination to use this precious time. The closed door for work is a rare open door of its own. I’ve enjoyed wrestling an idea until it’s captured on paper and waking in the night with thoughts that won’t wait for sunrise. I’ve enjoyed running along the wall looking for God’s direction—dreaming and hoping and thinking.
There was an initial thrill, a bracing refreshment of being cut loose on a broad prairie of possibility. At first, I dashed through the tall grass and felt the wind in my face and plunged ahead in the sheer joy of the open expanse. I was going somewhere, not boxed in by the incessant demands of business, not held down by the normal schedule. There were things to do that couldn’t be done at other times with other constraints.
Now I look up and see that I’m still on a great prairie, blocked by a lone wall marching across the horizon. That’s the wall of God, the wall of closed doors. Had I entered one of those doors, perhaps I’d be locked into a stuffy atmosphere, doing something that I don’t care about. Certainly something that wasn’t God’s plan.
God’s closed doors are keeping me in His wide fields for now, exploring, investigating. For all the freedom, the trouble is that I still haven’t resolved how I’m going to fulfill my responsibilities, how I’m going to care for my family, how I’m going to fulfill my part in His Kingdom.
So I’m still praying for an open door. This morning I prayed that something might even open today, though I don’t know what that door will look like or where it will lead. We still need God’s provision. We still need His direction.
I need His reassurance that I’m doing what’s right, that being “outside” doesn’t mean I’m in trouble, that it’s OK to wait on God in the quietness of this hallowed place.
But for now, I’m content. What walls me out, walls me in to the great expanse of God. Here, in the privacy of this special place, He is helping me to change, to take off worn ways of thinking and to put on fresh understanding for the next leg of the journey. We’ve been on the road for a long time, but, when I stop to think about it, I find I’m still eager to squeeze every moment for all it can yield.
When the door opens, whatever door that is—I want to be dressed for action and ready to go.
And if the plains themselves are my “open door”?—then I’d hate to waste a moment dancing with doubt or pounding in panic on the good wall of God’s closed doors.
© 2011 by Robert G. Robbins