I’m just gonna jump right into it: It is extremely difficult to continue treading forward when it appears that many doors are closing. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and energy to remain motivated and hopeful when it seems that God has been closing many doors to opportunities, especially when these seem to happen so close in succession. No one wants a door slammed in their face! And I have truly been there myself, feeling as if nothing I’m doing is coming into fruition, and even getting to the point of doubting my own abilities and direction based upon the current circumstances of nothing seeming to “line up”. Or even feeling that desire to have something transpire that just wasn’t in the timing for me (How I responded to this period in my life was a large component of that downward spiral I was explaining earlier-and I promise more on that soon!). And that perspective, my friends, is EXHAUSTING.
The apostle Paul might know a thing or two about this (ha.). In Acts 16, we find Paul and his comrades traveling throughout the region of Phygia and Galatia in order to preach the good news of the Gospel. The book of Acts goes on to say:
“When they came to the boarder of Mysia, the tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.” -Acts 16:7-8
Now, it appears here that Paul’s intentions were very pure: He was seeking to preach the good news that had been placed on his heart by the Lord! Why would the Holy Spirit keep him from doing such a thing that seemed to be the perfect thing to do at the time? It seems almost “wrong” that an opportunity that appeared to be so fitting for Paul would become a “closed door”. Paul must have been beyond perplexed. Sounding familiar? I know it does to me. However, if we continue reading, we see God unfold his perfect and wise reasoning:
During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”– Acts 16:9-10
Paul, originally dazed and confused as to why this would be happening, received a sign from God that explained this sudden change in what Paul had planned and felt was right for him at the time. A great door had now been opened to preach into the whole continent of Europe. It was there that Paul was truly needed most. Through closing this previous door that Paul had anticipated (and wanted) to walk through, God conserved Paul’s strength and remaining years in order to be utilized into more fruitful fields, where Paul was needed more. God was not punishing Paul by eliminating opportunities. God closed the way to the lesser in order to guide Paul to where He needed him most.
Sometimes we are SO stubborn (by the way, I am probably the most stubborn of all, WORD.). Sometimes, it takes God making something impossible for us to do in order for us to see that He is the one orchestrating our path and our future. What may look like a frustrating and hopeless circumstance of doors continuing to be slammed in our face no matter HOW hard we try may really be God’s way of saying “My way, not yours, dear child”. It is only when we place our full trust and confidence in Him that we experience the joy from “doors closing”.
What? Can we really find joy in a circumstance that makes it seem like I am hopeless, useless, and destined for nothing? YES! When we choose joy in these circumstances, we are displaying that we trust that God is using this to guide us toward more fruitful fields. Now, I am by NO means saying that this is easy, because it’s not. But, with this perspective we both gain and lose:
- We LOSE hopelessness, frustration, self-doubt, anger, and fear
- We GAIN confidence, purpose, patience, and motivation
I don’t know about you, but life is tough enough when I think I know what’s best. And still somehow, I seem to be wrong…more times than more times than I’d like to admit ;). And we may not receive this clear vision (such that Paul received in his dream guiding him where to preach), but maybe that’s God call for us to surrender? We are to serve God as we think best. If we happen to be wrong, (THAT never happens), we need to trust God to correct and guide us-and sometimes He has to do this by slamming those doors! What seems like discouragement is really God’s ever-present nudge in the direction that he has laid out for us. I need this reminder: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” –Romans 12:12
How can we praise God for “closing doors”? OR, how can we shift the focus from discouragement to joy and trust? I’m still a major work-in-progress on this, and likely will be for quite some time. It’s that whole “control addict recovering perfectionist thing, right?!
But hey, you’ll have to wait for the next post for clarity on that 😉