A friend was sharing with me that his church, for all the best of reasons, bought themselves an expensive security system in order to keep thieves and vandals out of their building. Trouble was, the security system also secured the church building against the intrusions of the congregation! Congregation members were reluctant to enter the building to arrange the flowers, or to prepare for a Sunday school lesson, or to meet for a Bible study, for fear of tripping the security system. This suggests to me that the great challenge of big locks is to be sure that you are not imprisoning yourself, while trying to lock out the criminals!
The Risen Christ moved through closed doors in order to get close to his disciples. The power of the resurrection is a promise that there is no force on earth, including the forces of our own doubts and unfaithfulness that can keep the Risen Christ from us. The predominate response to the resurrected Christ, at least among his closest followers, is fear. We fear the new life and demanding discipleship that he brings us in his resurrection. Yet the good news is that he comes to us, he breaks down our locked doors and shows himself to us, empowers us and sends us forth.
As a pastor my greatest challenge is looking into the eyes of new Christians and seeing them simply shut down. They had failed so often in life, had experienced so often the door slamming in their faces, that they had withdrawn; they had locked the door and thrown away the key, so to speak. Paul writes, “We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7) Our greatest struggle as people of faith is learning that God closes one door and opens another door for us. We walk by faith; therefore, it is not always easy to know when God is closing a door, nor when He is opening a door. This often occurs in an inaudible way, without burning bushes, or lighting bolts. We like the security of the known, so we want to remain behind our present door. The unknown bothers us, so it is difficult to go through the open door.
People at my age close doors more slowly. The longer we live the more we learn to be careful upon closing a door. Be careful when we slam the door in someone’s face saying, “I’m done with you! It’s over!” True, part of growing up, becoming wise, is learning when to close a door. Sometimes we keep coming back again and again, going over the same old script, trying to make the unworkable work. It is wisdom to know when to close the door firmly and move on into another room. We have got to know when to risk and put down our bet, and we’ve got to know when to fold, when to cut our losses, and close the door on the game.
When the door is closing and the new door is opening, we will struggle. We will go through a season of prayer. We will seek the advice and counsel of people we respect and feel have more wisdom than us. We will sit in the silence and wait.
When God is closing one door and opening a new door, we know this is going to lead to something better. Thomas Carlyle wrote; “When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with its fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze.” When that tree falls (that door closes) in silence hundreds of acorns are planted in the forest (the new door opens).