Closed Doesn’t Mean Locked
Years ago I worked as a security guard. Now, to be fair, I wasn’t much more than a glorified watch dog. I didn’t carry a gun. I didn’t have handcuffs or any means of restraint. I didn’t have any legal power or authority. I had a badge but it was purely for show. At the time I was living in Minneapolis. As part of my job I went from office to office in a high-rise office complex late at night, turning door knobs to make sure they had been locked. If a door was locked, I moved on to the next one. If it was unlocked, I noted the time and office number on the clipboard I carried. After that I entered the office and “checked it out” to see if anything was out of the ordinary. That was it. That was the entire extent of my duties. For 8 hours at a time I went from floor to floor, from door to door, checking to see if a door had been left unlocked. No, it wasn’t very exciting. But hey, it paid the rent and put food on the table.
Many times over the past 20 years I have reflected upon that experience as a means of explaining my own spiritual walk. Let me explain. We all have dreams, aspirations, goals, plans, pursuits, endeavors, etc. All of us have things we would like to accomplish in this life. Now, I know that at the end of the day all our ways lie in God’s hands. He providentially shapes and molds the events and circumstances of our lives, causing all things to work together for the good to those who love Him (e.g., consider the life of Joseph). But even with that truth in mind, our choice still plays a vital role in the equation of life. We have free-choice. As such I believe there is a reality in which His purposes can parallel our plans. It doesn’t mean my plans take precedence. That’s not what I’m saying at all. No. In ALL things He has the preeminence. He is first and His purposes are the priority. But I believe that God has created us with a personality, one that is as unique and distinct as just about any other human feature you can name. So many times in my tenure as a pastor I watched as God’s plans for a person usually aligned with their personality. The nature that God gave to them many times found expression in His calling upon their life. Not only did He create them FOR a purpose but in the act of creation He shaped their personality for that purpose. Follow me, so far? Good.
Back to the door… Much of my life has been a matter of testing “spiritual” door knobs. I’ve done a lot of different things over the past 20+ years. I was a children’s pastor, a youth pastor, a missionary, a senior pastor, and a church planter. I lived in Argentina, Minneapolis, Miami, and Georgia. 5 years ago I left professional ministry and entered the secular work force. I started blogging. I preached on the side. And two years ago I returned to college at the age of 44. What’s the point you ask? At each step along the way I felt God “leading” me to move in that direction. But here’s the thing, never once did I have a “burning bush” experience. No angelic visitation, no miraculous event, and no booming voice from the heavens led me to make the decision to move forward into something new. In each instance it was a gentle and yet persistent “stirring in my Spirit” that was subsequently bathed in prayer and presented to trusted friends for counsel.
Was I certain it was God each time? Yes. And no. There were times when I had faith to move mountains. And there were days when I thought I was surely losing my mind. So for me, I gave it over to God and did the only thing I’ve ever known to do… I checked the knob. I asked God to close the doors that were wrong and open the doors that were right. In the natural some things seemed impossible. In the natural some things seemed impractical. Some times people told me I was “crazy.” Other people told me it couldn’t be done. In the natural the door was closed. But just because a door is closed doesn’t mean it’s locked. Sometimes God wants to see our determination. Sometimes God wants to refine our passion and commitment. Too many times we are discouraged and deterred by the slightest opposition and the smallest obstacle. Like Israel we see the Red Sea and we give up, not realizing that the door was just closed… not locked.
In my life I currently find myself in that same scenario once again. I feel a “stirring.” I have begun to pray. And within the last week I’ve started testing some door knobs. Right now I see a lot of closed doors, a lot of impossibilities. But I’m not worried. I learned a long time ago that just because a door is currently closed, that doesn’t mean it’s locked.