What do you do when the doors slam shut before you?
When we think about Jesus, we rightly think of him as a trailblazer; a way maker; a miracle worker. But at least on one occasion, this door opener, who is in fact “The Door,” had a door shut closed before him.
It’s also amazing to discover that that closed door, (especially when He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “take this cup away from me”) led to greater and wider opened doors – even doors that would lead many into the Kingdom of God.
The Prayer in the Garden
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with me.”
He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Why didn’t He answer Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane to take this cup away? Well, we are going to answer that question in this post.
But look at another classic example:
The apostle Paul is obviously in need of a breakthrough, so he prays to the Lord on three separate occasions asking for God to remove what the bible calls “thorns” from his flesh. It is only after the third time in prayer does Paul understand that God has something else up His sleeves (for lack of a better word).
2 Corinthians 12
The Thorn in the Flesh
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
- Why didn’t He answer Paul’s prayer to take away his thorn?
- Why do doors remain closed?
- Why do marriages end?
- Why does a toddler get kidnapped, torture with cigarette burns and left on the side of the road?
- Why does the door of life close on 130 people in Paris; 21 in Mali; 49 in Nigeria to terrorism; and more than 14 in San Bernardino?
Would you like to know what God is doing behind the closed doors in your life?
I believe He is working behind the scenes:
- His closed door to Jesus became an open door you, me and countless others who would open their hearts to Him.
- His closed door to Paul became a door to the richness of knowing and walking with Him.
I believe there is a blessing behind every closed door.
- We find it in the all sufficiency of His grace that is made perfect in our weaknesses
- We find it in the gift of His grace which is like the working of His mighty power
- They are rich – those who are poor
- They are comforted – those who mourn
- They inherit the earth – those who are humble
There is a blessing behind every closed door
- It is the humble beginning that should not be despised
- It is the insignificant stick that parts the red sea
- It is the oil of a widow that was nothing in the beginning but became everything in the end – because it wouldn’t stop flowing
- It is a boy’s lunch of fish and bread on the backside of a desert that feeds the multitude
There is a blessing behind every closed door
- When an ordinary shepherd boy is forgotten by his father, but God anoints King
- It’s a town up in the bunnies of a forsaken place; ridiculed and made fun of; yet God raises up a Prophet, Priest, King – mighty deliverer, healer – Savior of the world
There is a blessing behind ever closed door! But why do they remain closed?
There are closed doors because God knows what He’s doing
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
“For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in. Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them.”
In Exodus 14, God specifically led Israel to a dead end. He knows what He was doing? So while the children of Israel grumbled and complain God’s plan was to destroy Pharaoh and his entire army and make a way for the children of Israel by parting the waters at the red sea.
God will make a way where there seems to be no way… he works in ways we cannot see, he will make a way. Isaiah 43:19 says, by a roadway in the wilderness He’ll lead me, rivers in the desert will I see.
There are closed doors because we knock on the wrong ones too often.
Paul had a keen focus on his calling and ministry. It really didn’t matter what door he knocked on, as long as pagans where behind them, that’s where he was going. But God knows the right door and the right timing when it comes to reaching the lost. So, “A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, immediately sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that this was the right door and the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:6-10
There are closed doors because of wrong requests…
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures/passions.
Amiss/ wrong motives:
- Not with submission to the will of God
- Not to honor God
- Not to glorify God
- Not to bless others
- To consume it on our lusts
- To use it on excessive indulgence and luxury
- To satisfy the passions and pleasures of life
There are closed doors because of disobedience…
Obedience led to opened doors for Abel. But disobedience led to closed doors for Cain. Take a look at his story:
And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
God wants to be first in our lives – when we obey and put Him first in our time, talent and treasure, He opens supernatural doors. In Malachi 3, He even promised to “open the windows of heaven for us and pour down for us a blessing until there is no more need.” He promised to “rebuke the devourer for us, so that it will not destroy the fruits of our soil.”
There are closed doors because there is something better…
A simple act of obedience is like an avalanche that slides wide open – door after door.
The Macedonian door led to the Lydia door. The Lydia door led to the deliverance of the demonic slave girl door. The demonic slave girl door led to the prison door. When the prison door opened, it led to opened door to salvation for the jailer.
When God closes a door in our lives, He always opens better doors. Closed doors are only detours to better doors that God leads us into.
There are closed doors because of your adversities…
1 Corinthians 16:9
For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
We need to be aware that some open doors are a walk in the park. But others are covered with land mines of oppositions, both natural and supernatural. So when a door is closed, it could mean that we need to embrace the challenge and press on with the help of the Lord.
The bible says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
There are closed doors because God wants us to exercise our faith…
The entire Christian life is a life of faith. The bible says, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Sometimes we just don’t know and just can’t see what God is up to, in those times we must walk by faith. This kind of faith not only pleases God; but is rewarded by Him. Hebrews 11:6
Learn to hold things with open hands
Too often we try to hold on to things God wants us to let go of. We hold on to that relationship because of the fear of being single. We hold on to ministries God wants us to transition out of. We hold on to habits God wants us to change.
We hold on to so-called “gardens” (we grow pot) because we’ve convinced ourselves that there is no other way to deal with pain. We hold on to the pills because we’ve become dependent on them and not on God. We hold on to a certain status, living beyond our means and in debt because we want to look good or measure up to people we may never meet.
Holding on to something creates a sense of power, of being in control. But if we are not careful, holding unto those things the Lord wants us to let go of, can lead us into bondage, and keep us from receiving something better.
We must learn to hold our goals and aspirations with open hands and a patient heart. Never try to force doors open.
The secret to living with open hands is:
- An openness or willingness to let God close whatever door He wants to close. (Again, refer to Paul’s journey in Acts 16.) Am I completely submitted to God’s ultimate plan for my life? I must be ready to submit to whatever God wants to do in my life. I must be willing to renegotiate where ever I am on my journey, with where ever He wants me to be on His journey. After all, he knows what’s best for me.
- An openness or willingness to embrace contentment. The bible says, “There is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it” (1 Timothy 6:6-7). Contentment does not mean you lack to desire to achieve. It is not a resignation to mediocrity. Contentment doesn’t depend on your opened or closed doors. It means Jesus is more than enough and I am willing to follow Him however He leads.
- Awareness that we are blessed to be a blessing. Sometimes the doors God opens in our lives are not necessarily for us alone to enjoy. Psalm 67:7 declares, “God shall bless us; may God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us so that the ends of the earth will fear him! Freely receive – freely give. Our lives are designed to be conduits of the mercies of God. So from time to time we need to remind ourselves that it is not about us. It’s all about Him and what He wants to do in and through us.