I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.
One of my favorite lines from the movie The Sound of Music, is “Whenever God closes a door, he opens a window.” It is not always the opening we have in mind. And I remember thinking when I first heard it that a window is not the same thing as a door. A person can walk through a door, or even run through it, but has to crawl through a window. And now when I hear this bit of homey wisdom I always think of a dear friend of mine who, upon finding herself locked out of her house one night, decided to step up on an upside down bucket and crawl through a very small bathroom window. She got stuck in the window, the bucket turned over, she was on the back side of the house. Finally, a friend who was concerned when she did not show up for Bible Study went to find her, and eventually pushed her through where she landed unceremoniously on the bathroom floor.
That sort of thing tends to happen, not literally of course, more often than not when we look into a door that God has opened for us and decline to walk through it. We think that there is a window that I can crawl through and be just as well off.
Generally, I have learned over the course of a long life, it is better to go ahead and say “Yes,” to the door that opens before us. I have, from time to time, thought a door looked scary or hard, and declined to go through. Most of the time, I have realized later that I should probably gone through that door. Yet God is full of grace, and allows me to move on, and comes to push me through the window I am stuck in, that I thought was a better way.
But there are times when I race toward a door that I feel like God has opened for me only to find it closes in my face. And I can only think that perhaps that door was not opened for me in the first place. Maybe I was never meant to go through it. The great writer and educator, Parker Palmer, wrote these thoughtful words, “The truth is that every time a door closes behind us, the rest of the world opens up in front of life that is of us. All we need to do is stop pounding on the door that is closed, turn around, and see the largeness of life that now lies open to our soul.”
In the last few weeks we have endured continuing Covid 19 outbreaks, openings and closing again of schools and businesses, economic hardships, civil unrest, hurricanes, earthquakes and (for California) more that 500 wildfires. And I find myself saying, “Lord, I loved how it used to be. This is not what I like!” And God says to me, “Rachel, stop pounding of the door of the past and turn around. The whole world is out there. There is so much to be done! So much beauty to behold! So much love to give and receive! Look!”
And of course that is true. The plans God has made for us are for a future filled with hope. God is trying to show us the plans that have been laid out for us. But God will not force us to carry them through. If we say, “no,” God will find someone else to do the work that was to be ours – and reap the joy and peace that were ours for the taking.
O Jesus, I have promised to serve thee to the end
be thou forever near me, my Master and my friend
I shall not fear the battle if thou art by my side
nor wander from the pathway if thou wilt be my guide. (UMH 396)
Gracious Lord, you have given us so many opportunities to be your followers in this often difficult word. Open our eyes and hearts to opportunities to serve you by serving your children. Give us strength and courage and willingness to follow wherever your path may lead, trusting that wherever you lead us is the right pathway. Amen.
Pastor Rachel Moser