In recent weeks I have had two doors shut in my face, doors I thought were wide-open. Walking through those doors could have changed my life. I saw the openings; prayed about them, sought godly counsel, looked for clarity and was convinced that God had indeed swung the doors open and cleared the path. Only to have them both slam shut. Honestly, it hurt. It rocked me back. The resounding thud still resonates in my heart’s ear, and the pain is still very real.
It happens. We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt the pain, experienced the confusion. It hurts, both spiritually and emotionally. It causes us to second-guess ourselves and question God. Were we that wrong? Are we that out of tune with God’s will? Did we misunderstand His voice that much? Or did we do something wrong? Did we mess up that God changed His mind and shut the door, stopping us dead in our tracks?
But I do remember something different in my reaction: “You should thank God for closing that door,” I said to myself.
I have had plenty of experience with closed doors and they rarely close quietly. Often, they hurt, even cause lasting damage. But I’m learning that they don’t need to. As I grow in my trust in the One who both opens and closes doors, my focus is on my relationship with Him and less on the door. I have begun to see every closed door as an opportunity to learn something about myself and my relationship with God. And in the end, when faced with my next closed door, I have realised that in the Christian walk, closed doors are just as important as open doors.
Closed doors refine me further. They shape me and chisel away more of what doesn’t look like Christ in my life. I’ve found that at times, a closed door has a mirror on it, forcing me to examine myself and showing me something about myself, some part of my character that needs work, a facet of my spiritual life that requires attention. Sometimes God closes a door to reveal something about my relationship with Him, to force me to draw near to Him and seek refuge and direction and yes, even answers.
Closed doors drive me to seek God’s guidance; whether walking through an open one or pausing to regroup at a closed one. God is more interested in strengthening my relationship with Him than He is about me getting the doors right. I need to follow suit.
Often, we pray for God to show us His will, show us which door to take; we ask Him to open doors for us. But we fail to discern His leading. Now, my prayer has become “Lord, help me to walk through the doors You open.”
“We must take the no of the way that closes and find the guidance it has to offer – and take the yes of the way that opens and respond with the yes of our lives” Let your Life Speak Parker Palmer. Lord, I get it. You have me in front of a “no.” A lot of way has closed behind me, and that will have the same guiding effect.
Closed doors maybe for someone else’s sake; maybe even someone that we don’t even know yet. I realised that I might have continued to pursue a work that was not mine to do, causing further harm to myself, to the people and projects with which I worked and to a profession that is worth doing – by those who are called to do it
Closed doors happen because He has something else for me to do. When I start to move with that Heavenly redirection, I have experienced an unleashing of God’s power. I rejoice in His Presence. And I move at an accelerated rate into the new thing He has for me. As I pondered on these thoughts I prayed: “Father would you give the smallest hint as to where I am to explore my future.”
That one prayer changed it all. God showed me that He would be with me during this season. He impressed upon my heart two simple statements KNOW HIM ● PROCLAIM HIM. I found freedom in that moment to lay my dreams and plans and agenda in front of the closed door and began to seek after God.
This moment reinforced in me that I need to rely on God for strength and wisdom and trust him like never before! I know how important it is to rely on God to make it through every day, whether it is an easy one or a difficult one. I understand how important it is to give God the glory and to thank Him for being with me throughout my day. I like to think that I am making a difference. With God as my co-worker, He helps me and guides me in the ways possible to do just that.
Not every plan has worked out. Sometimes, there have been losses and failures. Sometimes, there have been problems in relationships, or other unpleasant things. I don’t always have control over these events. Have you ever had something like this happen? You are going along with plans or doing this or that and all of a sudden ‘BAM!’ It’s like God closes a door and prevents you from heading in that direction or doing some activity anymore.
God understands and can see things that we just can’t see, things that will hurt us or others, things that are not in our best interest. He knows which things are better for us and will help us grow. He knows what will bless us in the long run. Paul says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I have claimed this promise for this current season of closed doors.
May we submit to the Divine Schedule, going where and when our Lord calls, and seeking those who he has planned appointments with.