I am no stranger to the adage, “when one door closes, another one opens.” It feels like a song I repeat when the winds of change come in life. If I am honest, I have never handled change very well, but does anyone?
When tides of change roll in, I suddenly feel panicked and anxious, as if I could be carried out to sea by the waves at any moment. Something about the shift of life makes me feel out of control. This year has been filled with so much change, so many new things; I am striving beyond my means to find a new normal.
It may be time to rephrase the adage to, “When God asks us to close a door, He opens one to obedience.” When He asks, our response should be to obey, but often we are quick to question or say, “Wait!” I have experienced both God closing the door for me and also choosing to obey and shut the door myself. Neither one is easy, but choosing to follow God’s plan leaves you rejoicing rather than hurting.
Several years ago I created a business I loved, attracted customers who meant the world to me and spent so many years making it what I thought it should be. All my time was spent working rather than with God. I wasn’t in the Word, I rarely prayed. My business was an idol in my life, one that was placed higher than the Father. Within a few short months, God closed the door for me, more like slammed the door shut and locked it. God had to close doors for me to learn how to obey.
I lost every customer I had for one reason or another, all of my classes were canceled, and I was devastated. “But God, I have so worked so hard.” In the end of it all, it was not about me and what I accomplished. I forgot I should have been serving God and not myself.
We can easily get so busy we forget what’s important and neglect what God has asked us to do in the first place. I have found myself in that place yet again. The place where God has asked me to close a door to something I love, in order for me to focus on obedience. Some doors close because God asks; others close because we fail to obey.
In the season after losing my business, I stopped striving and started searching for what mattered — seeking God in His Word, and praying in a way I hadn’t before. If that season taught me anything, it was the truth of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.” A verse most know by heart, but one I learned to rely on in a season where I was taught to obey my gracious Father.
We need refining seasons to lead us to the next open door.
A few years later after drawing deeply into the Word daily, God began stirring my heart for a new business that would glorify Him, rather than myself. I lived out Psalms 37:5, I committed my ways to Him, and He did just as He said — He acted far beyond what I could have imagined. However, I could hear the whispers of the Spirit; this business was only for a short season. Nonetheless, I longed to use the talent God had blessed me with to do something for the Kingdom of God, no matter how long it lasted.
I did not know what would come from the commitment I made to God. He blessed the business and me by allowing me to encounter and love on so many women. A season of spreading the Gospel with more than mere words, but with the artistic talents He gave me.
Two years later, I knew in my heart the season was coming to a close. I knew God was telling me it was time to move forward, time to close the door on the little shop I had poured my heart into. But, this time I was ready because I remembered the season of God closing the door for me. I am able to let go because I know God is waiting to show me something better.
Obedience challenges who we are and makes us more like Christ. It molds us into the person God desires for us to be. He wants us to be the person that can place it all in His hands and stop relying on our efforts to get us where we need to be.
God set a plan before us; He prepared a way for our steps. Are we willing to be obedient and trust Him? When He asks us to close the door, are we willing to walk away and rejoice? As I filled the last order for my little shop, I cried. Not tears of sadness but tears of thankfulness. Thankfulness for a blessed season of doing beautiful work, encouraging and loving in ways I never knew I could.
I prayed specifically for the last order and thanked God for all of His goodness, all of His grace, and all of His provision over those few years. I continued to pray and asked God to open the doors of obedience and show me what was next. I praised Him for new adventures and the calling He had placed on my life.
Looking at this door now reminds me, choosing to obey is far sweeter than God having to close a door for me. Friend, wherever you are, whatever God is asking you to do, be encouraged. His ways are not our ways. Trust the path He has set before us and be confident when He asks you to move on. He is ready with the door of obedience wide open, and there is no describing the joy and calling that waits for you when you walk through it.
By Michelle Rabon
Originally published in Be Still Magazine, Issue 5.