When a Door Won’t Close
It can be harder than you think to close a door.
While my wife and I were visiting friends one summer, we babysat their daughter during an evening when they went out. After two hours of playing games designed for eight-year-olds, our grown-up heads were spinning. So we decided to take her for a walk. There was just one problem. We couldn't figure out how to lock the back door.
It had some kind of double lock, with one bolt on top and another on the bottom. I had to lift the handle and turn the knob a certain way, and both bolts were supposed to lock in place. No matter how we tried, though, we couldn't make it work. Finally I told my wife, “The two of you start the walk, and if I can ever figure out how to get this thing locked, I’ll catch up with you.”
They went out, and I continued to struggle with the door. Just then the phone rang. The caller was trying to reach the friends we'd come to visit; he was someone they'd introduced us to. I'd actually had the chance to share the story of God’s love with him on a couple of occasions when we were all together. It was great to have a chance to speak him again.
We had a good conversation, and when I hung up, I reflected on our talk for a moment. Suddenly I said to myself, “I bet that door is going to lock now.” I walked over to it, lifted the handle, turned the knob just so, and both bolts locked in place. I was held hostage by a stubborn lock so I could talk to that guy, I concluded. I slipped out the front door, locked it with the key our friends had given us (this mechanism was simple), and joined my wife and their daughter on a summer evening walk.
Sometimes doors in life behave the same way. Friends of mine once took a whole year longer than they expected to move from one place to another. I asked them if they had any idea why they’d been delayed. The wife replied, “As far as we could figure, it was because one of our kids got to know one of the neighbor kids during that year, and actually led this friend to Christ. If we'd moved a year earlier, that wouldn't have happened.”
Proverbs tells us, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps" (16:9, NIV). We may decide, quite reasonably, that it's time for us to move on from our current situation. This may indeed be what God wants in the longer term. But God will determine our steps so that we don't leave any sooner than we should. He may even leave us where we are for the sake of another person we can keep influencing, until God accomplishes some important purpose in their life.
Image by Claire Burge. Used with permission.