I’ve had a lot of doors closed in my life, but God has never closed one door that he didn’t open another. Sometimes it took me a while to see it, due to the fog in my head and tears in my eyes, but as I stood still and listened, he made the way clear.
When struggling over a sudden change, it’s important to seek support for clear thinking. As I’ve written before, emotions and the stress of the moment can mess with our minds. I will forever be grateful to colleagues and friends who let us get it all out and work through the mess to find margin to hear God’s voice.
Along with the need for listening ears is for prayer warriors. Sometimes you can give the details of your situation and sometimes not, but either way, make sure you have people you can call or email who will step into the gap for you in an instant. Those prayers are needed to make sure you are not being pushed out in a direction that is not from God. God works through prayers for discernment and peace to clear our minds to take the right path forward.
When you have a choice, make your case
Sometimes a supervisor or organization will give you options for the next place of service. This happens a lot when a large group of ex-pats is forced out of a country at the same time. They all can’t go to the same location, so options are offered. Even if it seems you are not given a choice, remember that both you and your leadership need to be unified in the decision. Seek the Lord in prayer, look at what’s best for your giftings, family, and future ministry, and then don’t be afraid to state your case with confidence that you’re following the Lord’s guidance.
Even if leadership is willing to listen to your suggestion for a move, be flexible and willing to compromise as well. Working together as a team requires conversation and flexibility on both sides, so don’t lose an opportunity by being too stubborn to give in.
Find where God is working and join him
If a door has closed and you’re unsure about where to go next, ask questions of those in areas you’re considering. What is God doing there? Is there a need for a person of your gifting and talents? Are there too many churches or none at all? Sometimes the most fruitful fields are those where there are the fewest of laborers. Just because you’ve been denied the ability to remain where you saw God working doesn’t mean he’s not working elsewhere.
Sometimes a short-term stay enables you to gain a long-term vision
If God hasn’t made clear where you need to go next, it might be best to spend some time in a place of transition in order to gain perspective for the next step. Remember that just because you’re seeking where to go long-term doesn’t mean you can’t serve in the interim. Some of the most precious ministry moments come in the places he opens for us to find rest and redirection. In many cases, these temporary locations become permanent homes and ministry posts.
Doors, opened or closed, provide us with beautiful opportunities to learn. When a door closes, open your eyes to the reality that God is just as present in your new location as in the last. Listen for his voice as you walk through the door he’s opening by his…
Grace and Peace
For more about where to go when a door closes, read When Doors Close: Changing Course in Missions Without Losing Your Way.