Closed Doors

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Closed Doors

By Grant Gaines

You can learn a lot about life from music – the highs of love and the lows of loneliness. The thrill of friendship and the heartbreak of loss. The simple pleasure of nature and the dangerous pursuit of money.

But perhaps one of the truest lyrics of them all comes from the great “theologian” Garth Brooks when he once famously sang, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

Unmet expectations, shattered dreams, and unfulfilled hopes. We all run into our fair share of “closed doors” in our lifetime. In the moment, running into a closed door sure doesn’t feel good at all, does it? But as we take time to look back on some of the closed doors we encountered earlier in life, isn’t it funny how often we can be so thankful that God didn’t allow us to walk through that door? Maybe you were considering taking a relationship to the next level, maybe it was a college you were trying to get into, or maybe it was a job you contemplated accepting. Whatever it was, your life today looks drastically different because God closed doors in one place and opened doors in another.

But why does He close doors anyways? Perhaps the best way to explain the “why” behind God’s heart is to look at the following story in the life of David.

It was certainly an odd time for David in 1 Samuel 29-30. Though he had been anointed as the King of Israel by Samuel in 1 Samuel 16, the current king – Saul – did everything he could to delay the inevitable reality that David would soon unseat his authority. This included sending David on one dangerous mission after another in the hopes that David would get slain in the middle of a fierce battle (1 Samuel 18:17) to giving his own daughter to David in marriage in hopes that she would be a snare to him (1 Samuel 18:20-21) to even trying to murder David at his own dinner table (1 Samuel 19).

After many long days of eluding his hateful father-in-law throughout the Israeli mountains, David eventually had enough of running from Saul. He wanted to end this giant game of tag immediately but he knew that the only way Saul would stop his pursuit was if David’s body was buried in a grave. So he did what only a desperate Israelite would do – he turned himself in to the Philistines.

In case you don’t know, the Philistines weren’t just any country, they were Israel’s sworn enemies. For David to do this would be like an American crossing over to join the Soviet Russians during the Cold War! And what’s even more astounding than David crossing over to the “dark side” was that the Philistines actually welcomed him over!

In fact, 1 Samuel 27-28 goes so far to tell us that David eventually gained the trust of the Philistine King – King Achish –so much that Achish actually made David his own personal body guard as the Philistines were going to battle against the Israelites (1 Samuel 28:1-2).

Are you picturing this? The anointed King of Israel was going into battle against the Israelites while fighting for his sworn enemy. This is bizarre!

But then, just when he least expected it, David ran into a closed door. Apparently the Philistine military leadership wasn’t wild about the thought of having one of Israel’s best fighters standing right next to the King as they were fought against David’s home country – “But the Philistine commanders were angry with Achish and said, ‘Send [David] back, that he may return to the place you assigned him. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting. How better could he regain his master’s favor than by taking the heads of our own men?’” (1 Samuel 29:4, NIV).

David was disappointed. He wanted to go to war alongside the Philistines to prove his loyalty – perhaps to “stick it to” Saul or maybe just because he had given up any hope in ever returning back home. Whatever his reason, David’s plans were spoiled – God shut the door to his plans in his face.

But while this may have seemed like such a giant disappointment to David at the moment, this closed door was actually a huge blessing in disguise. You see, as David was headed back to his Philistine home of Ziklag, he came upon the city just as raiding parties from the Amalekites were ransacking his town. All of his family, friends, and possessions were being carried away by these men who expected no resistance because they knew that David and his men went to war with the Philistines supposedly leaving the city unprotected.

However, because of a closed door to one of David’s desires, David and his men engaged the Amalekites in battle and eventually, “recovered everything the Amalekites had taken. Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back” (1 Samuel 30:18-19, NIV).

Had David been allowed to fight alongside Achish, he would have never made it back home in time to save his family and possessions – they would have been longgg gone.

Isn’t it funny how God works sometimes? We want something so bad only to be let down or disappointed when we don’t get whatever it was that we wanted. It feels like a door got slammed in our face and that God doesn’t care about our needs, wants, and desires.

But if the story above tells us anything about God’s character, it’s that He knows more than we do and has far greater plans than we could ever imagine. A closed door in one area of your life simply means that God has just opened up a better door elsewhere. It means that the door we wanted to go through wasn’t even close to being as good as the door that God has in store for us in the future. It means that we get to see the manifestation of 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT) play out in our lives – “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

A closed door means that if we really believe the words of Isaiah 14:27 (NIV) which declare, “For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart Him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?”, then that miscarriage, broken relationship, or termination from work isn’t the end of the world but rather the beginning of God’s unfathomably awesome plan for you.

Does this mean that running into a closed door will always be fun? Nope, not at all. Some closed doors are straight up painful to run into. However, when we find ourselves coming across a “No” from God, we must hold to the truth that a “No” now means a bigger “Yes” later.

When’s the last time you thanked God for a closed door?

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©Grant Gaines 2016


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