God of the open door

Farmville Enterprise July 24, 2019

Katy, the maid of honor in our wedding, had said at least from the time we met as sixth graders at Bates Junior High that she wanted to go to medical school. A lover of the outdoors, Katy excelled in science particularly as well as most other subjects, lacrosse and field hockey. It wasn’t surprising when she was accepted out-of-state to the University of Virginia where she majored in Biology. Before graduation she applied and was accepted to UVA medical school. After much more praying and contemplating the summer before matriculating she decided to change course. Although it had been her lifelong dream to become a doctor, Katy further evaluated the option and concluded it was not the path best suited for her. Many of us hardly could believe that she was not going to walk through the open door of medical school, since she had talked about it as a goal for years.

At coffee over Thanksgiving break she told me the important lesson she was relaying to her daughter who was a high school senior looking at colleges. “It’s not where you go that is ultimately important. It’s how you go and for whom you go.”  Big, potentially life-changing choices can be daunting. We might become almost crippled with the decision-making process when faced with more than one good option. What should we do after high school? Should we study a trade? Should we go to college? If so, where? What should our major be? Should we marry this person? Should we embark on this career? Should we move for this new job? When should we retire? Although we would like God to present a crystal clear best option many times we do not have that clarity, even after a lot of prayer.

In his excellent book All the Places to Go: How Will You Know? pastor and author John Ortberg focuses on the open doors we face and the choices we make. He often notes Revelation 3:8a which says, “See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.”

Like my friend Katy he stresses the fact that our attitudes while going through the open doors are paramount to pleasing God. The most important thing is our character. Whether we pick Door A or Door B we should do so with the intention of serving God. Like Abram, we are blessed to be a blessing. Life is not ultimately about our happiness, comfort or success. It is about living like Jesus as we walk through whichever door we choose prayerfully and wisely.  The book enumerates multiple examples of people who did small things for God which resulted in big impacts on the lives of others.

Ortberg writes, “You can choose, if you want, to devote your life to the problem of ‘How can I be rich?’ or ‘How can I be successful?’ or ‘How can I be healthy?’ or ‘How can I be secure?’ Or you can devote yourself to a nobler problem. Your identity is defined by the problem you embrace. Tell me what your problem is, and I’ll tell you who you are. People with small souls have small problems: how to make their lives safer or more convenient; how to put an irritating neighbor in his or her place; how to make wrinkles less visible; how to cope with cranky coworkers or lack of recognition. Small people are occupied by small problems. People who live with largeness of soul are occupied by large problems. How to end extreme poverty; how to stop sex trafficking; how to help at-risk children receive a great education.” Katy, a wife and mother of three, helps write her county’s science curriculum, teaches at an outdoor education center and is deeply involved in solving “big-soul” issues.

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