And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:6-10
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been known to run into closed doors. The odd house door, be it glass or wood, has been the undeserving recipient of my vertical face plant. Not fun, and quite embarrassing, especially in your own home! Sometimes in our walk with Christ, we experience ‘vertical face plants’ pursuing what we feel is the Lord’s will for us. Similar to real life, it can hurt and leave marks. I will say that one big difference between running into doors physically and spiritually is that rarely do we back up and try again with the physical doors we can’t open.
So, rather than repeatedly trying to flatten our noses on these spiritual doors, why not back up and consider whether it’s the way for us to go? Persistence is a wonderful thing, but when God closes a door, perhaps it’s time to move on and trust God. Unlike our physical escapades with doors, it’s sometimes really hard to know if we should move on. And, when we’re between these encounters, we need to be faithful in the things we’re doing for the Kingdom on a day-to-day basis. Good stewardship of our time is a wonderful way to be a blessing to God and those around us.
The most difficult part is in the knowing. When do we know we’re supposed to move on? When do we know when to persist? God speaks to us individually in ways that are most beneficial to us. What works for one person won’t work for another. Whether or not we hear from God, when we are bumping against a closed door, try another. Visiting these doors provide a progression towards our spiritual life path. Still, the bumps, bruises and sadness of closed doors remain. It’s okay to grieve these things! Perhaps now’s a good time to write a lament for the closed doors you’ve experienced?
By Rich Obrecht