Its the end of the year again, and there is much to reflect back upon. Every year has pages and chapters which represent seasons and sections of our lives. As Christians, we are often praying for the “open door,” and the “answered prayer.” This year, I am strangely and confidently most thankful for unanswered prayers and closed doors. I am thankful that the “stirrings in my heart,” the things I though were “God’s will,” and the things I simply didn’t have clarity on, but saw “by faith” did not come to pass.
This is counterintuitive at every level, but I am in good company. The Apostle Paul, driven with Gospel intensity to proclaim the word of the Lord,sought to venture into Asia. Acts 16:6-10 gives us an interesting and often overlooked reality.
A desire may be good, but it may not be God’s will.
“6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
Asia was a closed door and Bithynia was a closed door…the Sovereign God of the open door is also the Sovereign God of the closed door. Paul’s closed doors led to an open door in Macedonia with great Gospel impact. But at that moment, he didn’t have the following page in the story to know what would happen next.
There have been many valuable things I have learned over this past year through my own personal “closed doors.”
- The value of friendships…a true friend will listen to your heart, let you dump, invite you to lunch, give you wise and biblical counsel, ask you hard questions, and cause you to consider things you never had considered.
- The power of prayer…praying and having friends pray for you is the most important thing you can have. Its like treasure that never runs out. Its like a bank account with no limit. Prayer is a gift we often neglect.
- The faithfulness of God…God’s eternal and triumphant love never lets us go. If God is Sovereign, and He is, then He will bring us to where we need to be according to His great and perfect plan. He is faithful.
Unanswered prayers and closed doors are not designed to harm us, but to help us. If you find yourself in a similar season, put your crow bar down, and let go of the battering ram. Stop storming the gates! Don’t let those closed doors be a source of frustration, but freedom. There may be something else Jesus has for you, or what He has is already right before your face. He will show you.
Rest in Christ’s perfect love and faithful plan for your life, and praise Him for unanswered prayers and closed doors.
“He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” 1 Thes. 5:24