"Draw near to God - Put your trust in Him - Declare His works" (Psalm 73:28)
October 10, 2019
I have come to realize that Christianity has developed its own language and its own culture. This might seem to be a good thing because we are called to be different from the world; however, I’m not sure it really is a good thing.
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)
Indeed, Paul wrote to the Philippians and told us that “our citizenship is in heaven”. Yet, the current culture of the Church is riddled with ideas that do not come from God’s Word; rather, they come from the very world from which God has chosen to take us and take out of us.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
One saying that is popular among Christians reflects a worldly idea: “When God shuts a door He opens a window.”
Try finding that idea in the Bible sometime. You won’t – because it isn’t in there.
What you WILL find in the Bible, however, is that at times God will shut a door and let it remain shut or He will shut a door for a season and will re-open it when HE chooses to do so.
This flies in the face of the idea that “When God shuts a door He opens a window” and also in the face of our motivation for wanting to believe this idea: we want what we want when we want it and, if we look hard enough or manipulate God effectively enough, we will find it (the elusive window).
God doesn’t always open a door. That’s why Paul wrote this to his beloved Corinthian brothers and sisters: “…I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills” (1 Corinthians 4:19) and why James said this: “Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” (James 4:13-15)
One apparently permanently closed door to the Apostle Paul was the removal of whatever it was that he referred to as his “thorn in the flesh”.
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times (a Jewish idiom that means over and over and over and over multiple times) that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9a)
What was Paul’s response to this answer from Jesus that would be so dismaying to most of us? He trusted Jesus and HIS wisdom for Paul’s life, despite the disappointing nature of the answer.
“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a-10)
Please note, Paul isn’t giving up; nor is he settling. He is joyfully receiving the Lord’s will for his life.
How can he do this? He knows that God loves him and has His Kingdom’s best in mind and whatever Jesus wants, Paul wants because he belongs to Jesus, loves Jesus and trusts Jesus.
The ministry to which I was called and in which I walk requires that I sometimes hear some hard things as people tell me about their lives and the things that others have done or are doing to them. It isn’t uncommon for people who do what I do in the Kingdom to cry along with those to whom we minister.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)
That is a good, but difficult thing at times. One of the beautiful aspects of this ministry, though, is that we sometimes get to witness the spiritual courage of our brothers and sisters. Hardly anything touches me like this does.
I know a woman who is emerging from the debris field of a sort of “perfect storm” of loss in her life. She has given me permission to share a little about her struggle and recovery.
While it has all been very hard for her, the worst has had to do with the on-going loss of a primary relationship in her life. Sometimes insecure and malicious people will use these God ordained relationships to harm others and that is the case here.
She has seen it as a door that a malicious person has slammed closed and barred. Her response has been similar to what any of us would do in the same situation: she has assailed that door with everything in her being. She has feverishly looked for an open window or another door.
There are none.
She, like Paul, has begged God countless times to open the door or to break it to smithereens. God has not.
We don’t know why.
We just know God.
We know that He is love (1 John 4:16). We know that He is Sovereign Lord (1 Timothy 6:15). We know that He is good (Luke 18:19; Mark 10:19).
“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8)
There came a time in her grief and prayer that the Lord spoke to her and told her to stop attacking the door. He told her that at this time HE had the door closed. She was to trust Him and take refuge in Him and His wisdom about this thing.
She works out her relationship with God by journaling and writes her prayers in there. She recently shared what He was revealing to her about how she kept going back to “the door” and pounding on it. She has agreed with Him to trust Him on this and to seek her eternal purpose in Him and to resist assailing the door.
She shared her prayer to Him and I got permission from her to quote her because what she said reveals a truth we all need to see in times like those in which she finds herself.
“For you Lord have said, ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’ Please guard my heart. I know I was created for a purpose and that purpose is to have a relationship with YOU and NOT the closed door.”
Do you see what God showed her?
God has revealed to her that in her well-intentioned response to her grief she has developed a relationship with “the door”, having spent so much time, effort and focus on it. This “door” is originally from the enemy and it represents the loss of something God would have for her.
I’m not saying this is the case with her – but, often, doing this can border on idolatry and that will never be good for us. God has put it on her heart to break her relationship with that door – NOT with whoever is behind it with whom she righteously longs to practice fellowship.
God will open that door, if and when He sees fit. She trusts Him for that. Her focus is now where it belongs: on her Lord and her eternal relationship with Him.
May we learn to have more faith in God and His sovereignty than we do in the things satan gets people to do on the earth and the “doors” and other mechanisms he erects to block God’s intentions for our lives.
May the Lord develop in us a discernment about the things the modern-day Body of Christ believes, practices and trusts that have nothing in common with God, His Word, His ways, and His Kingdom.
May we reject the things of the world, even things other well-meaning Christian brothers and sisters speak out of habit.
May we experience the LIFE that can only be had through walking in the Spirit and trusting in the Lord.