Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Direct My Steps

Good morning! Today, I wanted to talk about what happens when God closes a door. We've all heard the old phrase, "When God closes a door, He opens a window." I wanted to dwell on that thought for a while.

My bible reading for yesterday was Acts 15:35-16:10. My focus is on Acts 16:6-10. In this bible passage, it speaks of Paul, Timothy, and Silas on their way to Asia. However, they were stopped by the Holy Spirit. They were not allowed to enter Asia. Then, they decided to go over to Bithynia, but again they were not permitted to go. In the night, Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia who was pleading with him to come to Macedonia and help. Therefore, they concluded that the Lord had called them to preach there.

How many times have we planned to make a step that we were sure was the right one? How many times have we schemed to make things go our own way? How many times have we worried about the future, as if we had any control? Or, how many times have we wanted to bail out when life got tough? Well, I know from my own life I've been guilty of all these things. I've planned out how things should go, and how my life will turn out. Now, don't misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with having a plan. The problem rears its head when we don't stop to ask God what His will is for our lives. And, sometimes, God's will is not what we had planned for ourselves. Sometimes, we don't even like where God is leading us. That's where faith steps in.

You see, for me, its easy to follow along with God's will when it's in my plan, too. There was a time in my life when I was broken. I just didn't believe that I could go on. I couldn't believe God, who loves me, was allowing heartache to arise in my life. I didn't like it. Actually, I was furious. I thought I'd done all the right things. I'd prayed, gone to church, and tried to be a loving person to all I met. I just didn't get it! It was a very trying time in my life. But, God in His infinite wisdom knew better than I. He wasn't punishing me, though at the time, I was sure I was being punished. I couldn't see through the hurt in my life. However, while I was wallowing, He was working the ugly, to bring out a beautiful outcome...A greater solution than I could have imagined. Sometimes He says no, because there is a greater yes at the end of the hurt. When we let God have control, we can rest in knowing He controls all things. He works all things for the good of those who love him, even the ugly things.

If God had not shut the doors to Asia and Bithynia for Paul and Silas, they would've never been imprisoned. I know that doesn't sound like a good thing. However, for one person, it was life-changing. If you read further in to Acts 16, when Paul and Silas were put into jail, they didn't wallow. At midnight, they were praying and singing praises to God. Praises to God! They knew God was in control. Suddenly, there was an earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison and all the doors were opened. The jailer who was in charge of Paul and Silas awakened to find all the doors open. Assuming that all the prisoners had escaped, the jailer intended to take his own life, but Paul and Silas called out to him because they were still in their cell. And do you know what happened to the jailer? He was saved. He and his whole family were baptized. For that jailer and his entire family, Paul and Silas' imprisonment was a phenomenal blessing. How many people do you think that affected then and continues to affect today?

God can see the whole picture. He knows what's happening tomorrow, next week, next month, next year...He can see eternity. We just need to trust Him and seek His guidance. We can and should plan for the future, but God will direct our steps. So, when a door or opportunity is closed to us, even if it's something we've planned all our lives, we need to wait for the window to open. He's a great and wonderful Lord! He's bigger and more amazing than our human minds can fathom. Praise God that He doesn't give us all we ask for. Thank Him for the doors that have been shut, the heartaches we've been spared, all the windows that will be opened, and all the blessings yet to come. Life isn't always easy, but God is always faithful! Wow!

"A man's heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps."
--Proverbs 16:9 NKJV

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