Kent Bush: Closed doors rarely mean we should stop
We’ve all been there.
You’re doing the right thing for the right reason. Your motives are pure and everything is pointing in the direction that this is the calling of your life right now.
And then it all falls apart.
Were you wrong? Did God put a stop sign on your path? It felt so perfect.
No one enjoys this feeling, but we’ve all experienced it.
In Revelations (3:7), in the letter to the church in Philadelphia - not the one in Pennsylvania - John refers to Jesus as “him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”
Every situation is obviously different. But I think there are three main reasons that a “perfect” situation falls apart.
One is that you might need to change directions. Maybe you’re doing the right thing in the wrong way. Maybe you need to change the plan a little. Maybe you just need to wait.
During our journey to adopt our son from Ethiopia, we came home in early February with every reason to believe we would be back to make our family complete in late March.
We didn’t get to go back until late June. Why? We struggled with that for weeks. I learned what the apostle Paul meant when he said he “labored in prayer.”
We knew we were supposed to be adopting this little guy. We had held him, played with him and wanted nothing more than to complete the first part of the journey God had put us on. Then the brakes were applied.
For us, the answer to “Why?” was that we were being given an opportunity to raise funds and tell our story. We got to invite people to come on the journey with us and a new playground and lots of toys and supplies were delivered to orphans in Addis Ababa that could never have been done in six weeks.
At the time, the closed door was confusing. But we are thankful for it now.
I think a second reason that doors to good things are closed is to force us to pray more. I don’t know about you, but when things are going smoothly and the sun is shining on me every day, I don’t pray as much.
When things are going well and there is no crisis in our lives, we should be praying more showing gratitude to God. Most of us don’t. At least for me, good times often mean complacency and a tendency to credit myself for doing a really good job at life right now. When things get a little dicey, my prayer life improves a great deal. I don’t know how well God could get a message to me during good times, but I know I pray often seeking answers when I go through the rough spots.
We have a friend who we met during our first trip to Ethiopia almost two years ago. She adopted a beautiful baby girl. She and a friend helped buy all new mattresses for the female orphans at a state-run facility and even helped start a non-profit group to benefit poor families and children in one of the hardest hit areas of Addis Ababa.
She recently returned to the country in an attempt to bring home a boy who is in a state-run orphanage on a student visa. Everything was in place and was progressing.
How could this not be the right thing to do? Taking care of widows and orphans was called true and pure religion in the Bible. That’s all she was trying to do.
But when she appeared in front of an official at the American embassy, it all fell apart. She was halfway around the world, doing what she thought was a good thing only to have a door slammed in her face.
Why would God let this happen?
It caused her to change plans and act rapidly. She is now fighting the clock. Instead of trying to get a student visa, she is now trying to adopt the young man. He is close to the upper age limit for adoptions so she is fighting an uphill battle.
But she is fighting.
If we are doing the right things for the right reasons, closed doors rarely mean we should stop. Usually, it is a gentle nudge to correct the path we are on and a chance to grow closer to God in the process.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta, Kan., Gazette.