When I would hear the saying “when God closes a door, He opens a window” or some variation of God closing and opening some way of passing through into some other place, one image always came to mind.
I imagined a long hallway that seemed to go on forever. There was no end to this hallway. Not only was there no end, but it was small, the ceiling low hanging, maybe not even 8 feet tall and so narrow that two people couldn’t even walk side-by-side. The only light in this cramped hallway came from your standard light bulbs – emitting hardly enough light to see by as they hung naked from the fixtures above. There were no windows, no natural light. Only the dim, exposed orbs floating overhead. But there were doors. There were lots of doors, one right after the other as far as the eye could see in this infinitesimal yet infinite passageway spaced evenly apart, maybe every three feet or so, all looking the same – your standard wood door with your standard brass knob. Nothing to distinguish one from the other. Some are completely locked as if there were a deadbolt on the other side and the knob is locked, too. It doesn’t turn, doesn’t give at all. Some the knob turns, but when you push, there’s nothing. And then there are some that are a complete tease. The knob turns, it opens. And you get excited because finally there is a way out of that dingy, creepy hallway that never ends and seems to have no way out at all. You just want a little bit of sunlight, a little bit of something different, something good. All in one instance you push forward, you see that light you’ve been longing to see, and…
There’s a chain on the other side of the door that holds tight. What happened to knock and it shall be opened? You thought it was your turn. You were certain this was your door. The door you had prayed about. The door you had pleaded with God to open because all you want is a little bit of sunshine, even a small window to look out of would do.
If this image doesn’t scare you, if it doesn’t terrify you just a little bit and make you feel so small that a part of you feels like you want to curl up in a ball, it should. This should make you feel small and incapable and completely overwhelmed at this whole knocking on doors nonsense. It sure does me. In general, I don’t like small spaces and I’ve come to realize I’m not a huge fan of the indoors. I don’t like feeling closed off and isolated and I don’t like not being able to see a way out.
If this is the image you have of this saying we so often throw around, if you have the same image that I once had, then there are three things.
One, God has more than just a prison-sized peephole for us to look forward to. He set us free from slavery and He didn’t intend for us to go back. All too often we’re willing to go back to a form of slavery because it’s easier, it’s immediate, but it’s also misleading. The prison always gives the illusion of greener grass, but we’re not really free. We’re surviving, not thriving as Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan write in Wild and Free. But Christ bought our freedom and he intended for us to thrive.
“…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1
Two, I’ve learned that life isn’t the infinite hallway with no light, no hope. It’s the road out of Egypt.
Right now, there’s a door you’re trying to find and you’re seeking with all your might, both eyes wide open, but it’s desert or prairie – or whatever terrain is the best metaphor – for miles and miles. An oasis or natural spring would be nice about now. A village just over the horizon would be even better.
Right now, there’s a door you’re waiting to be opened. You might even be trespassing a smidgen trying to peek in through the windows and going around back to see if anyone’s home.
For now, be patient.
The village will come soon enough. Enjoy the journey even though it’s hard. Your throat is parched, but there’s Living Water for that. You’re starving. That’s good. It means you have an appetite for goodness. Stay hungry just a little longer.
The door will open when the time is right, but in the mean time take in the beauty around you. There are things that need to be done outside of that door, people who could use you and who you could learn a thing or two from. The whole world isn’t on the other side of that door; instead, there’s a whole world outside that door just waiting for you to explore it.
And three, because life isn’t a cramped and creepy hallway, there’s room for company. You aren’t alone. You are not the only one waiting, wandering, knocking and wondering.
(photo by Kathryn Patterson Photography)
(Originally published to my former site, thetakingflightblog.com, on June 24, 2016.)