As we saw yesterday — God opens doors but often our feeble faith prevents us from walking through those doors and grabbing hold of opportunities that He is offering us; an adventure waiting for us.
The apostle John wrote from his exile on the Isle of Patmos to the Church in Philadelphia. He encouraged that church and us with these words, ““And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelation 3:7-8)
John is giving Christ’s words to the Church at Philadelphia, and he says that Christ has set an open door before them. I can’t imagine anything more exciting than the promise of new opportunity as a gift from the Lord Himself. I would like to think that Jesus has this message for every Church and every believer on the face of the earth: “I have set before you an open door.”
Yet we all know that most churches are filled with people who aren’t eager to walk through any door other than the one leading to the parking lot. Why are there so many people who fail to burn with excitement about the idea of newness and growth? I’ve watched Christians face this issue for many years, and I’ve come up with four observations.
1> God’s open doors are often disguised as problems.
It was the brilliant cartoon philosopher Pogo who once observed, “Gentlemen, we are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities.” What we are certain are obstacles to our exploits for God — lack of money, machinery, methodology, or manpower — are often God’s opportunities in disguise. One person’s stumbling block is another’s stepping stone.
2> God’s open doors are often time-sensitive.
An Arabic proverb says that the dawn does not come twice to awaken a person. When Walt Disney was planning Disneyland, he offered Art Linkletter an opportunity to buy land surrounding the site — land he knew would dramatically increase in value (see yesterday’s blog). Disney needed an answer quickly, but Linkletter balked, and the door to untold wealth slammed shut.
Passionate, faith-filled people are prompted to act on opportunities. If you fail to walk through a door God has opened, it doesn’t mean He is finished with you. But if you don’t step up in a timely manner, He will likely turn to someone who will not hesitate.
When Jewish leaders failed to accept Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah, God’s door of opportunity closed. Jesus said to them, “The Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matthew 21:43). God turned to the Gentiles with the Gospel. Israel will yet have an opportunity to embrace Jesus, but only after many centuries of regret for having missed their first opportunity (see Zechariah 2:10). When God presents you with a door of opportunity, don’t hesitate to step out in faith.
3> When we start through God’s open doors, we are often met by resistance.
Have you ever gotten caught in a revolving door? Few moments are more comedic — getting halfway through and deciding you don’t want to enter the building after all. Sometimes we try to back out of God’s doorways. We think, I must not have heard God correctly. I wouldn’t be experiencing opposition if God had opened this door. But if the apostle Paul anticipated opposition when approaching God’s open doors, we should too. He writes, “I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9)
The opposition trials, temptations, tribulations, or testy people is not a sign that you’re entering the wrong door. In most cases it’s a sign that you’re exactly where God wants you. No worthwhile attempt will ever go unchallenged. Opportunity and opposition are natural counterparts.
4> Open doors are often missed because of fear.
I can’t think of one opportunity God has opened to me that I did not reach for with trembling hands. Why? Because all open doors lead into the future — whether in five minutes, five days, or five years. And since the future is unknown to us, we are often fearful to step out in faith. We defeat our fear of the unknown by learning more about God, who has made Himself knowable. He has not given to us a spirit of fear, but He has promised to go with us wherever we go in His will. You can walk boldly into the future when you know that the God of the future goes with you.
Is there is an opportunity in front of you at this very moment that has left you nervous, scared, weak, and faithless? Wonderful! You may be looking at a door God has opened for you. Take His hand, trust His promises, and step over the threshold. Every step of faith you take toward God will also take you one step away from your crippling fear.