Closed Doors, Open Doors
I remember summer days growing up in Saint Louis. During the week, my mom would take my brother and me around the city. She liked the zoo. I liked the bird aviary. I can close my eyes today and still see the textured concrete path that snaked through the trees. Running streams and waterfalls projected a humid mist in the air. Lush trees dance along the exoskeleton of the enclosure — shadows fell like leopard print along the ground.
The familiar sounds of car horns and police sirens, native to city life, mysteriously faded at those doors. We wandered through the path as if we stepped into another world. Sights, sounds, and smells were all different on this side of the door. The aviary was my real life version of Lewis’ wardrobe. There was something magical about watching birds from lands far away swoop through the trees. The bird avairy taught me the power of doors in our lives.
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Doors capture our imagination. On one side of a door, I can stand in the pouring rain, soaked to the bone. On the other side of the very same door, I can watch the same storm, the same rain, from comfort and peace. The different between whether I find myself drenched or dry is determined by what side of the door I stand. To bring it even closer to home, think of the power of the door on Noah’s ark. Noah spent so much time and effort constructing a vessel to sustain him, his family, and a slew of animals during a flood, but had the door not been closed, it would have all been in vain. Of the same accord, the people living during the days of Noah found themselves on the wrong side of that door (Genesis 7:21-23). The powerful point is that Noah did not close the door — God did (Genesis 7:16). There are moments in our lives where God closes specific doors, a job, an opportunity, a relationship, and is seems so confusing at the time. However, we look back and see the protective providence of God. Standing behind a closed door in God’s will is always the safest place to be.
This, however, is not to say that all doors are physical nor is it the case that all doors are easy to walk through. In Genesis 12 we read the account of God calling Abraham and establishing a promise with him. Remember, Abram at this point was living in a pagan land and we really have no context for Abram’s relationship with God prior to this moment. So God bids a man to leave his home, his family, his culture, all he has ever known (Genesis 12:4). Somewhere out among the sands of the Middle East rests a spot where Abram stepped through an intangible door and into the promise. Unlike Noah, Abraham had to make the choice each and every day to follow the promise of God. This entailed wandering through a desert, looking for a city that does not exist on planet earth (Hebrews 11:10). The point is that some doors we must intentionally walk through — day after day.
After generations of torment and captivity, God sends Moses back to Egypt to liberate his people. The hardness of Pharaoh’s heart ignited a series of plagues on the land (Exodus 7:13). Plague after plague comes and goes and still, Pharaoh’s heart remains hardened towards the Israelites (Exodus 10:27-28; 11:10). In the final plague, death stalked the streets of Egypt at midnight (Exodus 11:4). It visited every home — door after door. We find that it was only a blood stained doorpost that turned death away from robbing the lungs of the firstborn (Exodus 12:22-23).
We when turn our Bibles to the New Testament, we find another lamb and another door. “The word crucifixion is derived from the word cruciare, to torture and torment, and was an ignominious fate reserved for traitors, slaves… and individuals who had no rights” (Zugibe, 2005, p. 51). As the process of crucifixion became more mainstream, the Roman’s simplified the technique by permanently installing a stipe and reusing a crossbar. This crossbar was simply “a long piece of wood, which was used for barring doors and was called the patibulum (from patere, to be open)” (Barbet, 1953, p. 44). At Calvary, the blood of a perfect Lamb soaked into the porous fibers of a piece of wood which traditionally served the purpose of locking a door (1 Peter 1:19). Death robbed the lungs of the firstborn (Colossians 1:15). He bowed his head and said it is finished — the door locking eternal life began to shudder (John 19:30).
“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9, King James Version).
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If you have ever entered a bird aviary of any sort, then you understand that the door system works in a two stage process. One door enters a small room with another door that opens to the aviary. The first door must be closed before the second door can be opened. It is a simple design to prevent birds from flying away when the direct door to the aviary is opened.
I remember as a kid blazing through the first door, racing towards a door less than two inches thick that stood between me and the muse of the aviary. I would pull on a door that refused to open because what laid behind me was not yet closed. The power of the lesson is that God must close some doors before he can open others.
I’m not sure what stage of life you find yourself in when you read this. Maybe, like me, your life has been in transition. Some goals have been met while others still loom somewhere on the distant horizon. My purpose is to remind you that just because an opportunity that seemed so great has faded, does not necessarily mean that God is finished working. There are times in our lives where we find that when one door is totally shut, the next one comes into focus.
Barbet, P. (1953). A doctor at Calvary: The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ as described by a surgeon. New York, NY: Allegro Editions.
Zugibe, F. T. (2005). The crucifixion of Jesus: a forensic inquiry. New York, NY: M. Evans and Co.