“I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” Revelations 3:8
At 14, I was compelled to enter the door of Salvation through Jesus: “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9). Thirty years later I was absolutely certain God wanted me to uproot my family and move to Atlanta for seminary. I knew anything else would be disobedience.
No matter how wild the invitation, it’s a wonderful thing when God’s will is abundantly clear. More often than not, however, I’ve struggled to find His “ordained” plan for me.
I think it’s because God’s much more interested in what’s going on inside of me, than on the outside. God’s will for me is the person I become as I let Him develop the character of Jesus in me. Decision making forms character.
Midlife is a time I never really planned for. I’m not yet who I want to be, and I know there’s something meaningful yet to do. I feel a new urgency to step out, but to where?
I asked God who am I and what should I do, and he began transforming my heart. I’ve committed to trusting God to have His way in my life. To keeping my focus on Him. I’m expectant and excited about the future, yet I’m still listless — more overwhelmed by what’s next than compelled.
“Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.” (Proverbs 8:24) I’m listening, God. I see many open doors. Which is Yours for me?
I want an unmistakable door. With a burning bush, a fleece or a talking donkey beside it! And a pleasant room inside, please. My real motives? For God to relieve the anxiety and messiness by telling me what to do, and for Him to guarantee relative comfort, meaning, and success along the way. I just want some downtime to enjoy life … haven’t I grown enough?
What God gives me instead is a blessing: divine doors of possibility without many details as to what’s inside. More opportunities than I could accept in several lifetimes, provided by God, to join what He is doing, for His purposes.
And usually, His answer to what should I do is — You decide. It’s up to me which doors to walk through and which to forgo (missing out is almost as scary as a mis step). The process might be painful, it will definitely build character. Lack of overt heavenly guidance doesn’t mean God doesn’t care about my choices, or that I’ve missed my celestial walkway.
Not what I asked for… but is this really good news? Could it be that inertia isn’t Life? That mistakes made with the right heart are allowed, even useful. I no longer need to fear missing my perfect door? My mustard seed faith in a BIG God is enough? So it is and it isn’t all up to me… the pressure’s off?
I ask God for wisdom. Wrestle with my desires and gifts. Redefine my strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledge that doing something well without passion is actually a weakness. I see some of my discontent as righteous restlessness, and some as my conforming to this world’s selfish ways. I open my eyes and my heart — expecting to see God’s kingdom.
God wants to bless from His great abundance. That should be my mission too. “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Col 3:23)
But how? Joyful decisiveness can be learned. When presented with life’s doorways, we can be closed-door thinkers (believing my worth depends on perfection, outcomes and performance) or open-door thinkers (committed to growth and embracing the journey).
In this post, I’m not addressing doors of temptation leading to immorality or selfish ambition (except in examining my motives and desires). Sometimes we lose the battle of flesh vs spirit. I usually know when I make a sinful choice and need to repent.
Instead I’m opening myself to endless divinely opened doors — all sorts of opportunities to join in God’s work. If you’re like me, this is where we struggle with choosing wrongly, which can lead to paralysis.
When I’m closed-minded I have to prove myself. Failure isn’t an option, so I’ll tediously arrange for my success and good image. My delays and rationalizations may seem prudent, but really I’m being self protective and refusing to trust God. I operate from the limited supply of my own strength. I’m slow to move and rarely take risks. My life is safe but unfulfilling.
When I’m open -minded, I know I’ll grow when I cross His thresholds… even failure is useful. I am confident and secure, because God loves me and goes before me — He’s already inside. I’m not ready or capable, nor do I know what’s beyond, but I know God is with me.
Every opened door isn’t for us, but as God presents them, shouldn’t we have just a slight bent toward saying YES! Toward the little ways we can engage and serve others to allow His love to flow through us, instead of withdrawing. Our small gifts in His hands are immeasurably valuable.
And especially in midlife, shouldn’t we say YES! to at least some adventures way beyond our means and abilities? Impossible without God. Outside our comfort zone. Often requiring us to join others and always to rely on God. Places where we grow and God unmistakably receives all the glory.
A word of warning: Once we go through God’s opened door, we can’t expect things to always be easy. “For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” (1 Cor 16:9) We have to remember, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” (Isaiah 55:8)
More on that and finding joy in the journey is coming down the pike.
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