I was lying awake in bed one night a few months ago.  Earlier that day I had received familiar news: I had been turned down for some kind of work/ministry position.  I don’t really remember the specific position or exactly how I was notified (email vs. “snail mail”).  This kind of thing has happened so many times that it has become a familiar and forgettable event.

But I do remember something different in my reaction: “You should thank God for closing that door,” I said to myself.

So I did.  Maybe I thanked God begrudgingly–the same way a child thanks a relative for a birthday gift he really didn’t want.   Gratitude can be difficult after months (or years) of hearing God say “no.”

But my heart did become more grateful as I pondered the ways God has used closed doors to guide me into His perfect plan.  I’m about a month away from an important anniversary: the day I left American soil for the first time to move to Manila (July 11th, 2002).  But I never would have made it to the Philippines if certain opportunities had opened up for me here in the States back in the late 90’s or early 2000’s (I’ve mentioned this before).   An incredible decade of ministry may have never even happened if God had given me what I asked for.

Lying beside me was my beautiful wife, an exquisite reminder of this truth.  She came to me after years of romantic frustrations and mishaps–some of which happened only months before I met her.  But it was all worth it, and now I’m grateful for every closed door that led me to her.  Here’s a line from my first love letter to her:  “I would take this path all over again as long as I knew it would lead me back to you.”  I meant every word.  I still do.

So I thanked God for closed doors that night.  Since then I have disciplined my soul to thank Him each time a promising opportunity turns into disappointment.  I know I can trust Him.

You can, too.

“What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”
-Revelation 3:7

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