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“When God closes a door…”

You’ve probably heard the maxim, “When the Lord closes a door somewhere He opens a window.” Julie Andrews, as the young woman, Maria, in the Sound of Music, runs into a closed door. While she believed her calling was to serve as a nun, her superiors had serious reservations. To find clarity, Maria leaves the security of the monastery (the closed door) and embarks on a new season of life as a governess (the window). Through ups and downs and plenty of learning on all sides, things ultimately work out great for Maria, the Von Trapp children and the widower Georg! How do you respond when life presents you with a closed door? Instead of pounding in frustration or crumpling in despair, have you considered that God may have something else in mind—something that ultimately turns out good for you, good for others and brings Him glory?

I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey found in the Bible (“Acts” chapter 16). His mission was to bring the Gospel—the Good News that God has reconciled us to himself through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ—throughout the Mediterranean region. After a strong start, Paul and his team encounter closed doors, “Kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia” and “the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to (enter Bithynia)”. Since no specifics are given, most likely Paul saw God’s hand moving through circumstances or heard God’s voice through a prophetic word blocking his advance. Paul recognized that God must have something else in mind. So instead of forcing his way in or giving up, he moved forward expectantly in the only direction he could—straight ahead to the coast.

God did have something else in mind. Through a nighttime vision, Paul sees a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” He and his team conclude, God has called us to preach the gospel to them. This is the window of opportunity. So they step out beyond Asia, cross the Aegean Sea, and launch out into the cities of Greece. They expand their mission scope believing that God will empower them to fulfill it.

Yes! With the ‘window’ came new opportunities. At the city of Philippi, Paul encountered Lydia, a merchant with an open heart to God. She and her household were baptized, becoming partners with Paul on his mission, the beginning of a vibrant church. But the ‘window’ also brought new challenges and hardships. Because of his work, Paul was arrested, stripped, beaten with rods, flogged and thrown into prison. The work was not easy. Yet, in both opportunity and opposition, God remained faithful to Paul—sustaining him, miraculously delivering him, and using Paul to bring joy and faith to others.

So if you feel blocked or face a closed door today, don’t give up on God. Expect Him to open opportunities before you. Keep moving forward knocking on new doors. Keep an eye open for something that may be totally unexpected, even beyond your own capacity. Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges. And hold on to the truth that Paul would later write to the church at Rome, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).” God works through the doors and windows of your life!

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