THE OPPORTUNITIES OF CLOSED DOORS
by David Sisler
The plans for the 60 story home office building of the John Hancock Insurance Company were imposing. Almost as soon as construction began, problems began. Two occupancy dates passed as adjoining property owners filed suits totalling $4,000,000. Covered with thirteen and one half acres of reflective glass, it was to be the showpiece of Boston. Window panes cracked or blew out and had to be replaced with 5,000 pieces of plywood. At a total cost of more than $6,000,000, each pane of glass had to be replaced. Cost overruns totaled over $30,000,000. Imagine the frustration of seeing so many plans fail.
Perhaps no one since the time of Jesus has walked more closely to the Lord than the Apostle Paul. His life stands up under close scrutiny.
Listen to the spiritual instructions he gave the believers in Thessalonica:
"Live in peace with each other. Be patient with every person. Do not pay back wrong with wrong. Always be happy. Never stop praying. Give thanks whatever happens. Do not stop the work of the Holy Spirit."
Can you imagine giving advice like that and then living so openly that no one could point at your life and label you a hypocrite? That was the Apostle Paul.
You would think that a man who lived like that could make any plans for God's work he wanted, and then successfully pursue those plans. You would think that a man who was obviously so close to God would never see his plans frustrated. You would be wrong.
Paul was accompanied on a missionary journey by Timothy, Silas and Luke. As they made their way up through Galatia, Paul said, "Do you know where the Lord is leading us? Do you know where we next need to preach the Word? The Roman colony of Asia."
Yet the Bible specifically tells us that the Holy Spirit forbade them to preach in Asia. As they set out for the strategic city of Bithynia, with plans to fan out from the big population centers to the rural sections, God stopped them.
They settled for a little speck on the map called Troas. But it was at Troas that Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia. The man pleaded, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."
Paul and his team were frustrated in their first choice. The move to Troas and then to Macedonia could hardly even have been called their second choice, but in one of the most critical tactics in the history of the Christian Church, the Gospel shifted from the East into Macedonia, which was the gateway to Europe. It is only now, twenty centuries later, that the Gospel is moving with force into the area Paul once envisioned.
It is a hard thing to settle for second choice.
Some of you are not married to your first choice, but to your second choice. Perhaps you speculated how your life would have been different if you had married your first choice.
You look at your career. Chances are the job you are doing today is not the job you ever dreamed of performing. And you speculate about how things would have been different if other doors had only opened for you.
As the years have passed, if you know Christ, you have come to discover that His first choice, which was your second, was the right choice. You have been blessed, despite the fact that if left to your own initiative you would never have been so blessed.
With no explanation at all, God simply told Paul, "You are not to go to Bithynia." It was almost by default that he ended in Troas. The dilemma of our lives is not the frustration of the closed doors, but the temptation not to trust God when it is He who has closed those doors. If it is God who is leading you, even though He may frustrate you by closing one door after another until He opens the one He knows is right, you can trust Him. I know!
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 4/9/94
Copyright 1994 by David Sisler
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