When we get a “NO” from God – when a door bangs closed – it’s often loud and shocking. We may have to cope with feelings of disbelief, disappointment and abandonment. “What will happen now?” “Did I hear from God?” “It all seemed so right.”
At first, it is good to focus on the door that closed. Go through the pain. Feel the disappointment. Talk it out with God, close friends and family. Allow yourself to grieve the loss of the dream. Reflect on the process of the door closing. Ask questions: “What was I hoping for?” “What did I need?” “What were my motives?” “How was I feeling?” “Is there anyone I need to forgive around this door closing? God? Others? Myself?”
Once we’ve dealt with the harshness of the door closing, we need to turn and look for the window that God does open. We must choose not to let the closed door define us!
The window is not necessarily there for us to climb out of. Rather, it’s a place of perspective while waiting. It’s a time for looking outside and taking in the surroundings.
We see trees and gardens. This reminds us of the growth that can happen. Dealing with disappointment can work good in us. Pruning produces life. Helen Keller expressed it well: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
We see buildings and walls. These remind us of how God protects us. We know how parents often have to say NO to their children in order to protect them from danger. (“No! You can’t play in the traffic.” “No! You can’t eat that bright poisonous berry in the garden.”) What was beyond the closed door may have looked good and right, but was perhaps not the best option. We can take comfort from God’s loving and protective nature.
We hear the birds. This reminds us to speak life and sing praise over our circumstances. It may start out by being a real sacrifice of praise, but it will become life-infusing and faith-fueling.
We feel the breeze of inspiration. Often boundaries, limitations and closed doors are the tools that cause the greatest creativity to be forged in us. It’s a space for coming up with clever ideas, a different way of doing things, re-inventing what’s already there.
We see the sunrise. It speaks to us of hope and new beginnings. New dreams. We look to the future. We talk to God, consult with counsellors and friends, journal and plan.
We see the sunset. This reminds us of God’s love and presence. Even with the door firmly closed, we can reflect on the fact that God truly is with us. He has promised to direct our steps. We can reflect on previous doors that God has opened in our life. As we so desperately want to know what will happen and wonder how long it will take, we must open our eyes, ears and heart to signs of his love and affirmation.
A couple of years ago we had sold our house and were not sure of where to move – we were battling to find a place to buy. A suitable home came on the market and we made a reasonable offer. We were so disappointed when the seller turned it down. After a while, the seller dropped the price of the home. We were so excited, and certain this was God’s provision. We made another offer, and the seller sold the house to someone else! We were devastated. Time had almost run out and we had nowhere to go. Waiting wasn’t easy. I remember the fear and frustration. The removal company wanted to know where they were moving us to, and we couldn’t tell them! During praise and worship one Sunday, God brought faith to my fear…
“You split the sea, so I could walk right through it.
My fears were drowned in perfect love…”
At the 11th hour, God miraculously opened a different door in the form of a short-term rental. A few months later we bought a home which is so very much more suited to us than the one we were so sad to lose. Whenever I drive past that other house, I thank God for shutting that door twice! As we live in our current home, we are continually grateful to him for the door he did open.
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:5 (Msg)