Ever consider the wonder of a doorway? Or wonder about the unknown possibilities every time we walk through one? Most of the time, we may know what and who is on the other side. Our expectations are set through foreknowledge or experience. When I walk through my front door, I know what the room on the other side will look like. But there are other doors entered which lead us to something new and unexpected.
Doors can be physical portals into a room or virtual portals as we step into a new experience. Doors can be welcoming when open and barriers when closed and locked. A common prayer request, a common hope, is for the doors of possibility to be open. The possibility of a new job, for instance. But sometimes we run headlong into a door expecting it to open only to find disappointment and rejection.
There is always a certain amount of anxiety when we open a door for the first time. Will I be accepted? Will I fit in? Will my expectations fit with the reality on the other side? Will I be liked? Will I like what I find through that door? These anxieties hit hard. Especially when it is the first day at a new school or a new job. Even that first time we attend a new church. Or when we first walk into faith in Christ.
We often picture entering faith as inviting Jesus into our lives. We open the door of our heart, and Jesus comes in. But much of the Gospel pictures it the other way around. We enter through the narrow gate, Jesus is the way and the gate for the sheep. Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13–14, NASB95) Walking through the narrow gate of Jesus is like walking through a doorway into a place we’ve never been before.
There is a mutual openness in faith. We open our hearts to Jesus and invite Him in, He invites us to step into a new life. We carry some expectation of what is on the other side, but when fully entered, our expectations are blown away by the realities of God’s Kingdom. We may walk through the door hoping for a better life. For Jesus to fix what is broken in and around us. Instead, we find a new life full of possibilities we never imagined.
But here’s the thing, no one can enter the door for you. To step across the threshold of faith is an individual choice. Yes, there are unknowns and possibly even a measure of anxiety about it. But opening the door is simply the beginning, the first step of faith. From that point on the openness of invitation changes to a mutual relationship with Jesus. As in the “abide in me and I in you” instruction of Jesus found in John 15:1-11.
Not all doors lead to life. That is clear from the earlier verse in Matthew. Knowing which doors to open is a matter of wisdom. Sometimes, God in His mercy shuts and bars a door we think is good. I’ve skinned many a knuckle fruitlessly knocking on doors that seem right only to find out that God has other plans. After many such attempts, I’ve learned to enter the doors God opens and not worry about the rest.
Let me emphasize that it is the God opened doors. Not all open doors are from God. Neither are all closed doors the work of Satan or sin. Some doors are closed to us by God. How do we know? Ask God. We need to rely on the nudge of the Holy Spirit more than whether a door seems open or closed to us.
So, I’m curious. What has been your experience with doors? Are there doors you’re afraid to walk through? Have you accepted the invitation of the Narrow Gate? The Psalmist wrote, “A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:10, NLT) That is, in some ways, how I see this ministry. Not has a one keeping people out but of standing at the door inviting and encouraging all folks to enter. Better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere. But we have to open the door and walk inside.