To begin, a disclaimer: my middle name is “Metaphor.” If you know me at all, or have read any of my essays, you’ve likely ascertained that I see all of life in pictures. Analogies are how I understand everything. For better or for worse, my brain searches for and assigns meaning to every single situation (the jury is still out on whether this makes me super weird or super awesome).
Regardless, for the past eight months, doorways have been the recurring theme. God’s guidance, teaching and strategy for me during this time has been largely characterized by doors. Here’s what I’ve learned thus far:
“There are things known and unknown, and in between are the doors.” —Jim Morrison
The dictionary says doors are hinged, sliding or revolving barriers at the entrance to buildings, rooms, vehicles and cupboards. But doorways aren’t only barricades, they are also transitions between spaces. Though they may represent an ending or a leaving, they equally represent a beginning or an arrival. Just as doors are entrances and exits in the physical, they also have symbolism in the spiritual.
This year has been filled with widespread change for both me and my husband, where we have transitioned (or are transitioning) from longterm work positions that have been meaningful and life-giving for us toward new endeavours. For me, the process involved a long period of sensing change and wrongly identifying what it might relate to about four. million. times. I have experienced a funnel-like narrowing down from the unknown to the known.
“If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door.” —Unknown
In times of transition, we may experience an ending, but lack insight pertaining to our next step. I wrote about this in Hermit Crab. There may be nothing before us or there may be so many options that we experience paralysis.
This season of too many choices and unknowns appeared before me like a long hotel corridor, with doors lining both sides of the hallway at regular intervals. This part required action and agency. I had no idea where to begin or which doors were for me, but I felt God’s prompting to turn knobs, to rattle doors and bang hard to see if any would open. If a door remained closed, I proceeded to the next, applying all of the same techniques. I worked my way down the corridor, weaving from one side to the other, until finally, a door swung open. It was clearly the one open to me, so I walked through.
It was tempting to feel discouraged at various points when a door wouldn’t budge. But I determined not to look at each closed door as failure, but as an indication that it was not the right thing. The closed door was not rejection, it was guidance to keep moving forward.
“A very little key will open a very heavy door.” ― Charles Dickens
The next phase of my door experience involved something akin to storming the castle gates. Sometimes a closed door is a hard no, but occasionally, there are imposed barricades that need to be conquered and broken down. You may not have beheld an actual battering ram in my arms, but in unseen realms, I was applying all of the forces at my disposal—in other words, prayer.
I believe strongly in the power of prayer. I’m not talking about a wimpy “now I lay me down to sleep” recitation or a passive, memorized script, spouted with little to no thought. Prayer is truly a little key that will open heavy doors.
It is a powerful aligning of our spirit with almighty God. It’s an active and vocal declaration of “on earth as it is in heaven.” It’s knowing our strength and authority, because of Jesus, and raising our swords to say, “Oh no you don’t, enemy!” During this phase, I fasted, prayed and wielded my sword. You might have mistaken me for a tired girl on a sofa, but if you’d put on your spiritual glasses, you’d have seen Wonder Woman, complete with cuffs and crown.
“The doors of opportunity often swing on the hinges of opposition!” —Adrian Rogers
The next door analogy was a picture of two very different structures before me. One was a large, arched doorway, made of wood and iron, so enormous it made me feel like shrunken Alice. It was the sort you’d imagine in a castle wall. The other was an odd-looking doorway in the shape of a cross. It reminded me of a painting done by my friend Dave many years ago called “Narrow Way.”
Though the grand looking door would have been easier to pass through, I knew I was to enter the narrow door. The accompanying message was just because something is easy doesn’t mean it is right, just as something that’s difficult to navigate doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. In this case, I had to twist and contort my body in order to fit through the doorway. It wasn’t straightforward. It was mildly uncomfortable. I definitely felt the opposition. But it was right.
“There I will give her back her vineyards and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.” —Hosea 2.15
The last phase of my door-dom learning experience has been one of immense excitement and joy. In February, I wrote something in my journal that I felt the Lord was saying to me. He told me he would be giving me new instructions. He wanted me to be listening and prepared to act; to be watching and ready to walk through. He told me to follow gut urges and to pay attention to what I thought were my own crazy ideas. He instructed me not to write them off, but to write them down.
The last three months have been crazy and wonderful. After all of the doorknob-rattling, gate-storming and contorting, something changed. The words “door of hope” from Hosea played on repeat in my mind. After months of hard terrain in the valley of Achor (which translates to the valley of trouble), open doors began appearing before me, almost like sci-fi portals to other realms. As I have trusted and walked through them, I have found myself transported. There has been a sense of ease and peace and rightness that has brought so much joy and solace.
It’s miraculous to me that something that began as a massive unknown has been formed and shaped and refined into the most beautiful thing. What began as an overwhelming amount of doors—most locked, barricaded, and useless—has been narrowed down to the one right thing.
Yes, it felt overwhelming. Yes, it took some time. Yes, it required trust and confidence. But now, I find myself of the threshold of a new adventure that fulfills more promises in one fell swoop than I could possibly have believed. (I promise to tell you more about it another time!)
Be encouraged. Our God does do immeasurably more than we could ask for or imagine (Eph. 3.20)