“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
– Alexander Graham Bell
Once upon a time…
These words excite us as we know what type of story we are about to hear. It is a story filled with heroes, villains, far off places filling us with wonder, and wishes.
We all have wishes. Birthday candles are blown out to thoughts of wishes. Christmas time comes with wishes. We lay in bed at night wishing for things to come or things to be changed.
A lot of our wishes feel like beating a locked door till it opens. Our fists pound and pound and pound until it seems like the door will splinter apart. Yet, nothing happens. The door remains closed.
There are things in our lives we see as a closed door to be pounded on until it opens. What are we to do when the door remains closed and our fist begins to bleed from our belligerent pounding?
Stuff I’m Going To Do
In Pixar’s Up, Ellie has a book titled “Our Adventure Book.” Inside are many picture of Ellie growing up, a picture of their house at paradise falls, and a page labeled “Stuff I’m Going To Do.”
Each of us has a desire for something. In our minds, we have a file marked “Stuff I’m Going To Do.” It could be a career, future plans, a relationship, or mending something from the past. God delights in our wishes and desires. He loves to give his children good things
Matthew 7:7-11 is a passage which fills us with awe. Jesus tells us to knock and ask, because it will be given to us. He tells us God is one to give good things. It fills us with joy to think about what God wants to give us.
It is not wrong to ask God for anything. We are told to freely ask. In fact, God wants us to ask our true heart’s desires. He takes pleasure seeing us reveal our hearts to him.
Into The Woods
However, how many of us do not like when a door to our desires is closed and locked? All of us do. We see a closed door, and we begin to knock, then pound, then scream. We want to do anything to get our wish.
We are like the characters in Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods. The opening scene reveals all the wishes the characters have. Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack, and a baker and his wife have their own desires. Except their wish seems impossible to obtain. (Listen to Into The Woods Prologue here)
Each character realizes what they must do in order to get their wish – they must go into the woods. So, they venture deep into the wood. Each character does get their wish. Yet, they do not receive without consequences. People begin to die, a giant invades, and the path through the woods is lost. At the end of the musical, the witch sings, “Told a little lie/ Stole a little gold/ Broke a little vow/ Did you?/ Had to get your prince/ Had to get your cow/ Had to get your wish/ Doesn’t matter how” (The Last Midnight).
Do we pursue the closed doors like this? We do anything we can in order to open it? Even if it means axing it down?
Saul did the same in I Samuel 28:3-20. He desperately wished to win the war against the Philistines. He pleaded with God to intervene. He prayed, he sought out prophets, he pleaded for dreams; yet, none came. Instead, he took matters into his hands. The closed door will be brought down; even if it meant going against God’s will. He sought out a witch to conjure up the spirit of Samuel. The close door became Saul’s demise.
Similarly, we do the same. We desire something, and God closes the door. Yet, we do anything we can do unlock it, open it, or break it down. Where does that leave us? Sunken on the floor, thoughts in depression, head down, and we refuse to do one thing…
Turning The Page
Near the end of the film Up, Carl is upset their house isn’t where it should be. He is so close to Paradise Falls, but his house settles so close, yet so far. He feels like a failure. He feels he failed his wife. As he sits in his chair, he pulls out her Adventure Book. See what happens – watch the scene here before reading on.
As he flips through the book, disappointment fills Carl’s soul. His heart breaks when he sees the page “Stuff I’m Going To Do.” As he closes the book, the page falls revealing something life-changing. Ellie put in all the photos of them. She saw their life as an adventure (even without going to Paradise Falls). Then on the last page she writes, “Thanks for the adventure – now go have a new one.”
Her wish to go have an adventure at Paradise Falls was Ellie’s closed door. Yet, she realized the open door around her. Her adventure was with Carl.
Our wishes are just like Ellie’s and Carl’s. Most of the time our wishes are for connections with someone. We try to find it in people who don’t want to play those roles or are incapable to. However, we still bang on their doors pleading them to be a brother, father, mother, or friend to us. If we end up breaking down the door, the connection becomes forced. The “adventure” we were looking for turns sour.
We, then, cry out to God claiming he did not fulfill his promise in Psalm 37:4. But, if we step away from the closed door, then we will see he did. God will give us the desires of our hearts. However, it may be with those who are already given to us.
One of the wisest people I know is my wife. She has a saying that is repeated, and rings in my soul. She says, “How long are you going to keep looking to those who are incapable to fulfill the needs you have before you turn to those God has placed in your life who are capable of filling those needs?”
When we refuse to turn the page of our adventure book, we will miss those around us who are fulfilling our wishes and desires. Those who have stepped into roles we long to have. Those who fill that emotional need. Those who draw us closer to God. It is when we look to what God has given us that we can heal the hurts which our desires come from.
The Disappearing Photo
Our wishes do not have to feel like closed doors. God is fulfilling our desires as we follow him. It might not be where we want or with who we want, but look around. God is fulfilling those things. Look up from the closed door, and run into the embrace of those God has given in your life.
However, most of us want to stay at the closed door pounding away. What happens? It is like the scene from Back to the Future. Marty’s parents are at a dance. His dad is dancing with his mom (they don’t know it though). But, another guy tries to steal her away. This simple action causes people in a family photo to begin to disappear. It is not until George runs to Loraine that the picture begins to reappear. (Watch the scene here)
We are the same when it comes to our closed doors. When we continue to focus on the closed door, our fulfilled desires begin to disappear from our lives. It is only when we run to those who God has placed in our lives that our picture begins to be made whole.
All of us have experienced hurt, abuse, and pain which cries our dreams, wishes, and desires. Yet, if we run into the woods to fulfill those things we will only be living in the last midnight full of rejection and lost on our path. But, turn the page. If we look around, then we will see what God is doing. He does give us the desires of our hearts. He does give us good things. He wants our hurts to be healed and our hearts to be mended. He puts people in our lives who may seem like the opposite of you in order to hug you so tight the pieces are put back together. When we look into their eyes, we will see they are the ones God is using to heal us and give us the desires of our hearts.
The question then rests with us: “How long are you going to keep looking to those who are incapable to fulfill the needs you have before you turn to those God has placed in your life who are capable of filling those needs?”
Dedicated to a friend who calls me brother and is a living example of this to me as I heal from my past.