Doors Lead to Passageways
Falling leaves interrupt the beam of my headlights as they reflect off of the wet pavement along this winding rural road in the Tennessee hills. My eyes are heavy after a full day of working, but the constant awareness of the dead body in the back of my vehicle, keeps me distracted from the fatigue. Driving through the night, I wonder at how, being a fresh college graduate just a few months ago, I would have never imagined being in this situation. Driving a vehicle with a corpse right behind my seat? Really?!? Not me! But, it was true. I was in a situation that I had never dreamed would ever happen.
My headlights illuminate the the eerily darkened building as I turn into the drive. Pulling up to the rear entrance, the only thing going through my mind is getting the body out of my vehicle and into this building, so that I can get on my way...back home where I am safe, dry and warm.
It won't be easy to transfer the body, but I've been trained and this is not the first rodeo for me in this task. You see, I was working for Gupton College, a funeral service institution that trains funeral service directors, preparing them for licensure. My job was to manage and staff the on-call removal service as a part of the internship experiences of the students. I, and one other colleague, would be available during the day to do "removals." This involved picking up deceased individuals from their location of death (home, hospital, nursing home) and delivering them to partnered funeral homes for preparation, while students were in classes. At night and weekends, students were on-call for this service and my colleague and I also took our turn in the on-call rotation.
I share this story to illustrate something very important in our journey of purpose. It is the process of walking through doors of opportunity. As I mentioned in my opening story, I had just graduated a few months prior to this. My graduation was in mid-May. Another important factor, however, was that the date for my wedding was set for July 23. Here was the challenge...in just about two months, I had to find a job to provide an income for me and my new bride. I had diligently searched...I was limited only by my lack of experience and the fact that we had to stay in Nashville, where my future wife would be completing her senior year of college. No problem, right? Nashville is a metropolitan area with a lot of industry and opportunities abound. Being a college graduate with a degree in ministry, surely a church would want to hire me to direct their Christian education or youth program...maybe a there would be an opening for an assistant pastor or worship pastor. I had a degree that qualified me for any of these positions. However, the reality was, after weeks of completing applications and submitting resumes (even to non-ministry openings), nothing had developed. No doors were opening for me. I remember talking to my dad on the phone one day and he asked, "Do you think you should postpone the wedding?" I knew that was not the answer. But, what was the answer?
The answer came two weeks before our wedding date, I got an interview, and subsequently, the job. Staff Assistant at John A. Gupton College. It was a job for which I had no experience and one from which I thought I would never benefit, other than just providing a meager income for my new bride and myself. I simply stepped through the door God was opening without second-guessing. I was just grateful that I would be employed in time for the wedding and Cindy and I would have a means to pay our living expenses so she could complete her education and we could get on with our lives together.
In this week's Purposed165 Podcast episode, Jasman interviews author and speaker, Stephanie L. Jones, about "Moving Beyond Your Comfort Zone." I hope you'll take a listen, as it and this post are correlated. Stephanie talks about living outside our comfort zone in order to see the hand of God work in us. She discusses her own journey and discovery of the power of gratitude and giving, as well as walking through the doors in our lives. ..which leads to this blog post. Based upon Stephanie's thoughts about walking through the doors in our lives, and my own experience in this journey, I want to share some insights about the doors before us as we pursue purpose.
From early in my journey of faith in Jesus Christ, I have encountered many doors of opportunity, some which came in seemingly miraculous ways and timing. That first full-time job at Gupton College was one of many doors, but it illustrates the principles about maneuvering those moments that I want to share with you.
Discerning the Voice of God
I don't want to make this too "mystic," in case this may not be the terminology with which you are familiar. However, it is imperative that we understand that God does lead his followers through various means. I don't think I've ever met a fellow Christ Follower who has told me they have heard an audible voice of God, though I won't dismiss the idea that some followers may have. Certainly, over the course of time, Scripture has recorded many times when God spoke audibly to His people in order to give his revelation and his direction. While I believe that revelation of the truth and plan of God is complete, suffice it to say, God leads his people today just as much as He ever has. The key is, are we in a place to receive his leading? In the interview, Stephanie Jones shares three simple things that place us in a position to "hear the voice of God." (my explanation and scripture references added)
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12
Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:17-20
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18
Walking Through the Doors
Stephanie Jones says that if you never live outside your comfort zone, you will never grow...you will never see what God can do. She goes on, "Don't close doors that God may be opening until you at least try to walk through them." This was clearly borne out in my experience with the job at Gupton College. I was certainly outside my comfort zone. But, it was clearly a door God was opening. Here are the principles that I've learned about opening those doors over the years.
Walk Through Doors Prayerfully
I definitely had been praying...a lot...for that job back in 1983. Frankly, there were many others praying as well...not the least of which included my finance's father and mother, as well as my parents. As I recall, I wasn't really nervous or worried...just concerned that I obtain something for our support by July 23rd. This opening door was an answer to prayer. A more recent example of prayerfully opening a door or opportunity concerns a promotion I received in with my company about a month ago. I had prayed that if it was God's will for me to step through the door, that He would direct the hiring personnel to offer the job. If not, I would be equally satisfied to continue where I was. When the interviewers offered me the position at the end of the interview and said, "You may think about it and let us know your decision," my response was, "I don't have to think about it. I know that I will accept your offer." I knew this was the next door for my journey because I had prayerfully placed it in God's hands to open the door.
Walk Through Doors Reflectively
Reflection, or meditation as the Scriptures put it, is a valuable process of dwelling on and ruminating over a thought or decision so as to discern the next step. Coupled with prayer, this exercise opens the door for the Holy Spirit to impress upon our minds the understanding that we need to proceed appropriately. This can involve tools like journaling or conversations with trusted counselors in your life. In my recent job promotion, I valued the input from my wife as we discussed the potential opening.
Walk Through Doors Trustingly
For the follower of Christ, this journey of life must be traveled in faith. God has told us, "without faith, it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). When we encounter the apparently opening door in our journey, we have to step through in faith...trusting that God has us and our future in His hands and we are a part of His bigger plan. Stephanie talked, in her interview, about cutting walking trails through the forest on her property and naming each of the paths. One particular path was made from a main trail, which she hadn't planned, only making her way through the woods, trusting that it would be productive. As it turned out, the trail led to a large, beautiful tree...which she would never have found without making that path by faith. Therefore, she named that trail "Faith." We step through doors of opportunity by faith as we discern the leadership of God in our lives...by faith, we please Him.
Walk Through Doors Expectantly
Stephanie Jones highlights the value of living outside our comfort zones. As I noted earlier, if you never live outside your comfort zone, you will never grow...you will never see what God can do. Seeing what God can do...and wants to do...that is the expectancy with which we must enter each opening door. It may be uncomfortable for us to step through some doors, but if we don't we will never now just what God could have done in, and through, us. The best outcome will be that God will be the recipient of the glory that comes from our lives...and we will experience the exciting adventure that ensues.
Walk Through Doors Receptively
God gets the glory when we allow Him to take charge and work through us at each open door He provides. But, we benefit from the willingness and obedience to His plan. When we walk through a door of opportunity, we step into an opportunity to grow and mature...to develop more and more into the image of God's Son. That is the ultimate goal for every Christ Follower...to become like Him. So, inside each door, we open ourselves to the work God wants to do in us. His work will serve to mold us and mature us. He will teach us things about ourselves and others. He will show us insights we could not gain in any other way. He will give us training and experience that will prepare us for the next door He plans to open. In my Gupton College days, God taught me a great deal about dealing with difficult situations, comforting and helping people who were grieving, and organizing and scheduling. All of these skills would serve me well in the opportunities He would bring my way over the following years. All of this was possible because I was willing to receive what He wanted to teach.
Doors Lead to Passageways
No door of opportunity that we encounter is really a final destination. Much like a doorway that we open in a large house, it leads to a passageway that may have multiple doors as well. We walk through those doors and live in that passageway, fulfilling our purpose in that phase of our lives. As we come to the next door that God is pushing open for us, we walk through by faith in order to embark upon the next phase. It is an adventure...it is a life full of seeing and experiencing the hand of God at work in us. Because doors always lead to passageways...fulfilling the purpose of God through us.
How have you experienced a door opening in your life that resulted in seeing God's hand at work? Perhaps you are considering stepping through an opening door now. Share your thoughts with our community in the comments. As always, if you find the content here in our community valuable, consider liking and sharing on social media. Invite others to join us.
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With over forty years of ministry experience, Randy Kinnick continues to live a life of pursuing the purpose for which he was created. Whether teaching God's Word to adults, coaching youth and young adults in finding their purpose, or caring for the hurting and abused in Southeast Asia, the adventure has taken him around the world in ways he could have never dreamed. The adventure continues!