God, our guide and leader,
enlighten our minds to know the direction,
encourage us when we are perplexed,
energise our steps when we are tired and
keep us joyful in your way.
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of the holy one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens: I know your works. Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.
(Revelation 3: 7-8a)
There are times when we approach a fork in the road, where some decision has to be made about the direction to take and this choice, for better or for worse, dramatically affects the circumstances and the quality of our lives. Film makers have picked up on our fascination with this question of, ‘What if?’ Krzysztof Kiewslowski in ‘Blind Chance’ (1981) and Peter Howitt in ‘Sliding Doors’ (1998) both present the different possibilities that a life might take by simply missing or catching a train.
A variation of the open and closed doors theme happened in the life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. As a young man, he worked at the Customs House in Salem, Massachusetts, in a place that he loathed and in work that he detested. As a way of salvaging some joy in life, he began to do some writing in the evenings. As a boy, he had puzzled over his vocation and in a letter to his mother he wrote: “I do not want to be a doctor and live by people’s diseases, nor a minister to live by their sins, nor a lawyer to live by their quarrels, so I shall have to be an author!”
Hawthorne’s first attempts at writing were met with only meager success but some years later he lost his position at the Customs House. He was dejected but his wife was elated. She exclaimed, “Your opportunity has come at last! Now you can be an author by profession!” He seized a manuscript that he had written, took it to a publisher and soon this book, ‘The Scarlet Letter’ was coming off the presses and being greeted with acclamation by readers around the world.
The scriptures offer a faith perspective in which we understand the living Christ with keys in hand, opening doors of new opportunity and closing other doors. To the first hearers at the church of Philadelphia who were experiencing insecurity and hopelessness, this letter would have given them hope and confidence.
As a way of rounding out the dilemma, in the next letter Christ pictures himself standing and knocking at the door of the church hoping that the Laodiceans, who have locked him out, will give him hospitality. We are called to both trust the divine doorkeeper and enter the doors when the opportunities are knocking.
Focus on your experience of closed doors and then look at them again through the filter of faith.
‘I have set before you an open door which no one is able to shut.’ Reflect on this truth for your life, identify your feelings and seek to understand how you are being called to act.
Selecting a Souvenir
God of possibilities and protection,
grant us wisdom at the crossroads,
confidence to entrust to you our lives,
vision to see new avenues,
courage to walk through new doors,
patience when doors appear to be locked and
hope in the mystery of life’s doorways and timing.
Lord of the way,
bless our coming and our going,
from this time forth and
Copyright © 2007 Geoff Pound Making Life Decisions
 The story of Nathaniel Hawthorne is told by F W Boreham, ‘Dazzled by the Glare’, Hobart Mercury, 26 September, 1953.
 This prayer is inspired by the words in Psalm 121:8.