Sunday, August 14, 2005

Hey! Open the Door!

Closed doors—another word for disappointments—can happen without warning. Things can be humming along in your friendships, your health, your love life, your work or schooling when BAM!

A door slams shut. Our way is blocked to the fulfillment of our dreams. How do we respond to closed doors? A variety of ways. Most are hurtful in the long run. Sometimes we manipulate our way around a door that God has allowed to close. You applied for that perfect job, prayed for God’s will, and you didn’t get the job. Do you accept it as God’s will and look for other work? Or are you tempted to pulls strings and go straight to the president of the company because he happens to be your friend’s father? Your friendship with his daughter should carry some clout, right? Do you pull strings—whether it’s turning on the tears or arguing your case—to open a closed door?

Sometimes when a door closes, we are so convinced that what we want is also God’s will that we push ahead anyway. We can’t see anything sinful in what we want. After all, what could be wrong with trying to reconcile a broken relationship? What’s the harm in practicing “evangelistic dating”? [You know, when you tell your parents “I know he isn’t a believer, but I could lead him to the Lord while we date.”] Especially in the area of relationships, we assume God wants what we want. (Operative word there is assume.) When a door slams on a relationship we desire, we might send up a few prayers. Most times, it’s to convince God that our desire is legitimate, so He will help us get what we want (not to find God’s will in the matter.)

Getting emotionally upset is the most common reaction to a closed door in our lives. Beware of this. While it’s normal to be initially upset, don’t stay stuck there. The longer you stay upset—and yes, it IS a choice!—the harder time you’ll have hearing from the Lord about the meaning of the closed door and what (if anything) you should do about it. Staying emotionally upset can also lead you to blame God or others for the situation. Playing the blame game is never helpful—and often very destructive.

So if those are wrong ways to handle closed doors, what’s a helpful, godly response? From years of experience from doing it wrong, I truly encourage you to face closed doors like this:

1) Wait. You can’t go wrong giving things time. First take time to calm down. Let the initial emotions pass. Satan is the one who will push, push, push you to DO SOMETHING NOW! The Holy Spirit will gently lead and guide. If you’re feeling a sense of urgency about forcing a closed door back open, be very alert. It’s probably NOT God.

2) Pray. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in seeing the situation clearly. Ask for help with your emotions. Ask for your eyes to be opened to other possibilities, perhaps another door the Lord is opening for you. Ask for grace to help you wait with a good attitude.

3) Trust. Thank God for working in your life even though you can’t tell what He’s doing at the present time. Trust that He’s working on your behalf in the circumstance because He is! We see the closed door—but we usually don’t see what’s happening behind the door. Remember, God knows how things will end. He knows 100% of the facts about any given situation—while we often know very little. Trust Him to do what’s best.

Facing a major disappointment today? A door slammed in your face and you don’t know what to do? Wait. Pray. Trust God to work. I know it’s hard to patiently wait. The real secret of patience is finding something else to do while you wait. Give the closed door to the Lord. Then, while He works, focus on something else. If just your timing was off, God will eventually open the door again. Or He may reveal His reasons for closing it—and point you to a different and better open door.

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