Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia,having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, wegot ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. – Acts 16:6-10
I’m not certain it was a clear and direct as Paul and his companions experienced, but I certainly have been guided by closed doors. The most obvious to me is when I was in college, determining a course of study. I had tried several different paths – none of which were working. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I entered a pre-med path and in one semester earned 8 hours of D’s and 6 hours of F’s. It may even have been the other way around.
I left college and tried the real estate business. The watershed event was when I had listed two houses, sold both of them in the same week, only to have both deals fall through on the same day a week later. On top of that one listing (which is the bread and butter of a real estate company, which I ran), for which I had really hoped, went to another firm. Doors were closing right and left.
One night my friend told me, “Dave, I think you would be a better pastor than a real estate broker.” An open window! It would require some work – college study with determination and focus. Better grades. Successful graduation from college and acceptance into seminary. But it was a window. I realized that this was what God was calling me to do.
Sometimes we think that closed doors – like failure to get the plumb job, or not being able to complete an item on our bucket list – are only dead ends. They may, however, be ways in which God is guiding us down a path of discipleship and faith. These closed doors are for our good and our neighbor’s blessing. This will be true for Paul and the people of Macedonia. It may be true, also for you.