Open and Closed Doors

One of our neighbors, for a retirement gift, gave us a  beautiful wrought-iron hanging flower basket along with a plaque that reads:  “WHEN GOD CLOSES ONE DOOR–HE WILL OPEN ANOTHER.”  As we  leave the full-time pastorate of a little rural community Bible church where we  have been since its beginning some 37 years ago, we look forward to the doors of  ministry God will open for us in the days ahead.

We  recently got an email from Tom Lough, a college friend with whom I roomed for a  year in the basement of the home of a family from Grace Baptist Church where we  both attended. We sang in a quartet that ministered in some of the little  churches around Bozeman and also participated in intramural sports together. We  had become good friends and Tom supported in our work with Rocky Mountain Bible  Mission and then supported Three Lakes Bible Church where I pastored. It had  been more than 40 years since we’d seen one another. Tom invited us to  meet him in Kalispell (where he lived growing up) for lunch a couple weeks ago.  It was a great blessing to see him again and to reminisce about our time in  college and in our youth group (COLLYP–for College Youth Group), and to catch  up on what has been happening in our lives–our joys and our sorrows– and  what God is currently doing.  We were both wondering, of course, whether or  not we’d recognize each other. It seems something happens to our bodies over 40  years of time!

Tom gave us a little autobiographical summary of his life which he had written  up. It was in terms of all the open and shut doors in his life to this point and  how God has directed his steps.  He began by quoting his favorite Bible  passage, Proverbs 3:5,6 where Solomon wrote: “Trust in  the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all  your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Tom said,  “Growing up in a Christian family, these two verses were very familiar to me;  however, the significance of them in my life was only realized many years later  when, in retrospect, I was able to observe the doors that God had opened and  closed for me along my pathway of life.”  Interestingly, I had chosen a  very similar passage for a power-point presentation at  the retirement celebration at our church. My verse is: “The mind of  man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps” (Pr. 16:9). As we  visited with Tom, it became very apparent that we could both look back from  this point in our lives and see how the hand of God has led us through closing  some doors and opening others, in His sovereign plan for our lives.  We  were both engineering students in college, he in Electrical and I in Industrial,  and both started out our careers in engineering. While working in engineering  for Hyster in Portland, Oregon, I did lay work for Campus Crusade for Christ and  ended up leaving Hyster to become a missionary with Rocky Mountain Bible Mission  in Montana, which led into pastoring Three Lakes Bible Church. Tom worked in  Butte, Montana for Montana Power Company and did lay work for 25 years for Young  Life.

Sometimes when God closes a door in our life it can be confusing, disconcerting,  and we could even choose to doubt God’s love at the moment, but as someone put so  well, “When you can’t see His hands, trust His heart.” God leads through closing  doors as well as opening others. I think of an experience which the Apostle Paul  had on his second missionary journey. He wanted to go and visit the churches  that he and Barnabas had helped establish on their first journey. After a  heated discussion with Barnabas over taking Mark with them again, Paul and  Barnabas split up. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-39) and  Paul chose Silas as his traveling partner (v. 40).  They traveled  “through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches” (v. 41).  Then we have a very interesting passage in the account of his journey.  We read in Acts 16:6-10: “And they passed through the Phrygian and  Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the  word in Asia; and when they had come to Mysia, they were trying to go  into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing  by Mysia, they came down to Troas (across the Aegean Sea from Greece).  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a certain man of Macedonia  was standing and appealing to him, and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help  us.’  And when he had seen the vision, immediately we (Luke, the  writer of Acts probably joined the team here) sought to go into  Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.  “

Notice how God closed one  door and opened another for Paul and his missionary team. Because of the closed  door in parts of Asia, the Gospel spread to Macedonia and Greece in  Europe.  It’s interesting to note in the passage in Acts 16 that though it  was a man of Macedonia that appeared in Paul’s vision, asking him to come over  and help them, it was Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple  fabric, who was the first convert to Christ in Europe (vv. 13-15). Then we have  the story of how Paul prayed for a slave girl whose spirit of divination brought  profit to her masters by fortune telling. Because she was delivered from the  demon who enabled her to tell fortunes, her masters saw their money-making  scheme was gone and “they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into  the market place before the authorities, and when they had brought them to the  chief magistrates, they said, ‘These men are throwing our city into confusion,  being Jews and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept  or to observe, being Romans'” (Acts 16:19-21).  As a result, Paul  and Silas were beaten with rods and thrown into prison and placed in stocks (vv.  22-24).  “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and  singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and  suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison  house were shaken; and immediately ALL THE DOORS WERE OPENED, and everyone’s  chains were unfastened” (VV. 25,26).  (Talk about God closing and  opening doors!!)  The jailer was aroused from his sleep and when he saw  that the prison doors were open, he was going to kill himself “but Paul  cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do  yourself no harm, for we are all  here!’ And he called for lights and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell  down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, ‘Sirs, what  must I do to be saved?’ And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall  be saved, you and your household'” (vv. 28-31). And thus, because God  closed the door to further missionary work in Asia, we see the church now being  established in Europe. Praise the Lord for closed doors as well as opened  ones.   Remember, “WHEN GOD CLOSES ONE DOOR HE OPENS  ANOTHER!”  And, He will give you the grace and strength to handle  both as you trust Him with all your heart and don’t lean on your own  understanding (Pr. 3:5,6).

Forever  His,

Pastor Dave

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About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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