November 1972- Midwest, USA – High School Senior
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9 KJV).
“Mom, did you and Dad sign my application to the Christian college with the missionary nursing program?”
“We looked it over, but we won’t sign it because we don’t want you to attend there. It’s too conservative, and we think you are becoming brainwashed and a religious fanatic,” Mom replied.
I silently left the room, realizing it was useless to argue, went to my bedroom, and closed the door. As my tears flowed, I poured out my heart to God.
Dear Lord, You know how much I wanted to attend that Christian college. My parents’ hearts seem so hardened to you. I pray that Mom and Dad would each receive you as personal Savior. You know how difficult it has been here for me at home lately because they seem to hate you and the Bible. Please comfort me and show me the way I should go next. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Over the next days, I read the wonderful story of Joseph in Genesis. When he was about my age, he was rejected by his eleven brothers, sold into slavery in Egypt, falsely accused of adultery by Pharaoh’s wife, and wrongly imprisoned for two years. After he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream accurately, he was made second in command over all of Egypt. “…there is none so discreet and wise as thou art…And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 41:39, 41 KJV). God changed Pharaoh’s heart, so he could certainly change my parents’ hearts about attending the Christian college, but he hasn’t. I accept this as a closed door from the Lord. God sees the whole world, but I can only see my little corner.
I learned a difficult but valuable lesson as a new believer in Jesus Christ about obeying and honoring my parents who God placed over me. “Honor thy father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise” (Ephesians 6:2 KJV). Over twenty years later, my mother had a major stroke resulting in paralysis and brain damage which left her mind like a 10-year-old child. As she lay in the intensive care unit, God graciously brought to her mind Bible verses she had memorized as a child, and she received Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want (lack)” (Psalm 23:1 KJV) was one of her favorite verses. We had sweet fellowship for the next five years of her life before the Lord took her home to heaven above.
As I reflected on this closed door, I recalled how many years I brought my nice little plans to God and asked Him to bless them. Then one day I realized the absurdity of telling the Creator of the universe what to do. A wise brother in the Lord once said, “Remember that God is driving the bus. Don’t be a backseat driver!”
George Mueller, a British pastor who trusted God to support thousands of orphans in the 1800’s wrote, “How I ascertain the will of God: I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. I seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with the Word of God. Next I take into account providential circumstances. I ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me aright. If my mind is thus at peace, and continues after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. In trivial matters, and in transactions involving most important issues, I have found this method always effective.”
The apostle Paul faced both closed and open doors in his life. Acts 16:6-10 records how the Spirit first forbid him to preach the word in Asia and then again in Bithynia. Then he received the call to preach the gospel in Macedonia. When we walk through the door God opens, we shouldn’t be shocked if we encounter difficulties. Paul discovered this in Ephesus when he said, “For a great door, and effectual, is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (I Corinthians 16:9 KJV). I later discovered in 1973 that God would open a much different door for me other than the closed door to the Christian college.
I continue to trust the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to lead and guide me, his little sheep. He only wants his highest and best for me and each of His children. In the morning, I now say, “I look forward to seeing what you are going to do today, dear Lord.”