On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." John 20:19
"To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut..." Revelation 3:7-8 "When one door closes another one opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which opens for us." Alexander Graham Bell.
Just the other day I was thinking about how we move from one level of progressing to the next and why sometimes we have trouble and are delayed in getting to where we should be or at least think we should be in life. Of course, this pandemic has given me much time to ponder the intricacies of daily existence, but for real, it is something that we should give some thought. Why? Because by not examining where we are, have been and where we want to be can hinder our movement. This time I am not talking about procrastination; it's deeper than that. It goes further than missed opportunities; it is the "road not taken by our own choice."
Let me see if I can create a picture. For those who drive, picture this: You are sitting in car to car traffic that is crawling, meanwhile you (when traffic permits) can inch to an opening where you can turn off that road and go in the opposite direction where traffic is zooming by. Mind you, you will have go a few minutes out of your way, but shortly you will be able to get on a road going in your direction where traffic is flowing. But, you rule it out by saying, "the time I take to get on another road won't make much difference, I might as well sit here and ride this traffic out." Let me tell you I have found myself in this predicament on several occasions and did just that (stayed in traffic). I have watched and counted those cars ahead of me that left to find flowing traffic. I just sat there complaining and waiting. This was my choice.
Another example is someone who gets fired, excessed, or downsized from a job. Unemployment may or may not be available. Some will stay on unemployment until it totally runs out (no judgment here). It can become problematic when and if these same folks do not prepare or look for other opportunities until or after the benefits expire. Hence, when forced back into the job market, their skills are rusty and/or outdated. Then the blaming begins (not themselves) for having to now learn another skill or to brush up on the skills they did have. Again, lack of preparation or foresight is a personal choice. If there was another door available, they were not interested enough to inquire.
To be perfectly clear, sometimes others are responsible for our misfortune or "closing a door" in our face (metaphorically and sometimes literally speaking). Some do not mean you any good and they will (by their actions) let you know that. Remember Jezebel and Elijah. She put out the word that she was going to take him down. Nevertheless, it is our choice how we respond. It is also important that we do not let others gain so much power over our thoughts that we are paralyzed in place and blinded to doors that might be open as a way out of trying events. In our society we experience a sense of helplessness when we cannot control all the circumstances in our lives. To counter this, there are those of us who muster some short lived courage. After all, we keep hearing that we should speak encouragement over our lives (I wholeheartedly embrace this). I am being a little harsh; many people of faith (and sometimes those who are not of a particular leaning) try to put a more positive spin on their outlook. We are therefore quick to say, "when one door closes, another door opens." Or how about this, "When God closes a door, He opens a window." Do we really believe this? Let's see.
In the scripture noted above: Revelation 3:7-8, we note that Philadelphia was a city built at the juncture of three ancient nations: Phrygia, Lydia and Greece. It was one of the richest and most powerful cities in the entire ancient world. But in the year AD17, an earthquake hit (one of many), and the aftershocks of the earthquake continued for months. As a result the people had to live outside of the city walls (walls kept them safe from their enemies). Thousands died in those months, killed by invading bands of enemies, rogues and thieves to which they were vulnerable. John was writing this letter as the Lord's messenger, writing these specific words (at the behest of the One who is holy and true) to the church at Philadelphia; a small church in that city.
By the time they received this letter, the city had been rebuilt, but the citizens were still traumatized. John wrote that they were doing well. But, he offered a word of caution: "Don't be afraid." It is no wonder that they were fearful, in addition to the constant threat of earthquakes, they were trying to live out Christian values in a non-Christian culture, against the power of Rome in a Greek culture. Their worrying caused them to lose perspective. John reminded them that they were doing what they were supposed to do by remaining faithful to God, teaching sound doctrine and living lives of integrity. Their focus was not on what they were doing right. They had forgotten the One who was with them and therefore they were letting themselves be paralyzed by fear. "God has set before you an open door in the midst of your tough times." In a nutshell he was asking whether they were willing to walk through that door with God as an ally. No one on earth can shut the door that God has opened. The open door represented an evangelistic opportunity to preach the gospel and share the message of God's love even in the midst of this chaos.
Doors open and close in all areas of our lives, and for many of us closed doors mean different things to different people, depending on where one is in their life. I remember once when I wanted a newly renovated apartment in the building I was living in. At the time I believed that it was the best, and I actually could afford it. The landlord decided to give it to someone else. I really was distraught behind this to the point that I went out looking for other apartments in the area (I was willing to pay the expense of breaking my lease). I quickly ended my search because of the high prices of rents for these other apartments. I need not tell you that I did not have pleasant thoughts about my landlord or the super who could have made this happen. I lost my focus. I forgot my mantra: "What God has for me is mine, and no one can block it." Lo and behold shortly thereafter I got a notice in the mail from the Coop Office that I had applied to years before informing me that I had a choice of three apartments from which I could choose. Not only did I get the three bedrooms, hardwood floors, 1 1/2 baths, but also a terrace, and gas and electric included, and the rent was less than I was paying for the two bedroom apartment that I was living in. I was so convicted by my behavior and dip in faith. God opened a door that I had long forgotten about (or one I deep down didn't believe would open). All I could do is confess and give Him praise and thanks for His faithfulness, mercy and grace.
There is no door that can keep God out, and if He has opened a door on our behalf others can try to close it, but it will not happen. I am convinced that when God closes or allows a door close, it is because it is not the door He wants us to walk through at that time. He has the best plan for our lives if we will only trust Him. We love because He first loved us. l John 4:19. We can trust Him to handle the doors in our lives.
Are you looking at a series of closed doors? Perhaps the door has shut on good health, finances, or a valued relationship. Have you decided to throw your hands up and cast blame? Well, there are some better options. The best is still yet to come.
Strive to do what is right (right thinking will lead to right actions). God will honor your integrity and your faithfulness. John reminded the church at Philadelphia that the Lord had noted their steadfastness in spite of their fears. Peril was on all sides and the outcome appeared bleak, but they kept on serving God and doing what they had been instructed to do in accordance with God's will in an environment that was full of idolatry and danger. You must keep on living a life that honors God and lifts yourself and your fellowman. "Let us not become weary in well doing for at the proper time, we will reap the harvest if we do not give up." Galations 6:9.
Take the blinders off. The reason we put the mental/spiritual blinders on is because we are afraid to see what is coming. We know that in our own strength we can do nothing (much). Pretending and/or ignoring events does not change anything. We just get hit in the face with it, putting us further on a downward trajectory. We also become impatient and decide that this is the way it is going to be so we resign ourselves to, "I will fear," forgetting the One who is on our side and who has promised to be there with us. Fear shows a lack of trust; remember the attributes of God. Trust and believe I know how easy it is to forget and lose focus, but open you eyes and look ahead. God sees everything, He is not surprised by anything, and His love is everlasting. He also has not forgotten what you asked Him for. God is greater than any obstacle you will ever face. (Read the story of David and Goliath). No one said the road (life) would be easy. But, God will always have your back.
Shut doors are no problem for the Lord. Just like nothing is too hard for God and there is no problem that He cannot solve, a closed door is not strong enough to keep God out or to keep Him from opening it. Get it in your head and your heart, that there are some doors that God will open for you and some doors that He will close or that He will let close. He knows what is best for us. That is if you trust Him enough to put your life in his hands. Jesus appeared in the presence of His disciples after the resurrection. They were behind locked doors fearful of those leaders who had plotted Jesus's death and after witnessing His crucifixion. Most likely they were afraid for their own lives and of their uncertain futures. No one unlocked or opened the door. Jesus appeared in their midst and calmed their fears. He is the same today, yesterday and forever. Don't fear locked doors; we are loved by the Creator who has power over everything including doors. He says, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and the door shall be opened to you." This speaks to God's willingness to answer those who sincerely and diligently seek Him. He wants your heart; He will take care of the doors.
God is always working on behalf of those who love Him even when we cannot see or feel His presence. I am going to leave you some lyrics from the song titled, "God is working." (Performed by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir).
GOD IS WORKING, HE'S STILL WORKING. GOD IS WORKING EVEN NOW. THOUGH WE OFTEN DON'T KNOW JUST HOW, GOD IS WORKING EVEN NOW!
THOUGH YOU CANNOT SEE AND YOU CANNOT UNDERSTAND REMEMBER GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL. HE HAS PROMISED TO BRING YOU THROUGH SOMEHOW AND HE IS WORKING EVEN NOW.
HALLELUJAH!! HE'S WORKING EVEN NOW.
AMEN! I AM A WITNESS!!
Once again, I want to thank you for all your support. My advice column "ASK YVETTE" is launching. Please click on the link below to read the first two questions and the responses. If you are interested in submitting a question, please send your question to AskYvette1@gmail.com by the 16th of the month. "ASK YVETTE" will post all responses to questions in the Forum Symposium during the first week of the month (see link noted below). I sincerely thank you for being a part of this journey with me.