Open and Closed Doors

October 9, 2019

By Peter van Gorder

You might have heard the familiar expression, “When God closes one door, He opens another.” There are lots of people in the Bible who had to forsake the old and venture out into the new—Abraham, Noah, and Moses, just to mention a few. God’s people have always been on the move, leaving the old behind and striking out to new lands. You can read about their faith adventures in Hebrews chapter 11.

There have been times in my life when I have come up against a brick wall, so to speak. The door of opportunities where I live and work seems to slam in my face and nothing seems to flow. It is at such times as this that I have found prayer to be my weapon of choice and an unshakable ally.

One example was when we were living and working in India in a very successful event company headed by my daughter. We were tops in our field and somewhat of a trendsetter for the competition, until one day my daughter announced that she was pulling up her stakes after living there 15 years, as she had decided to make a new start in a new land.

My wife and I were suddenly in a position where we had to find a new home, as our visas in India were soon to expire. The door was closing. Now where to? It was time to pray for our next open door. We sent out feelers to anyone we knew, trying to find where we were needed most and where we could find our niche.

We had one invitation to a small-town community in the Balkans, and so we went there. Not knowing the language, we realized after three weeks that it would be a tough go to make it work. There were few opportunities, we were unable to get a visa, and it seemed that the door was closing once again.

It was then that my wife remembered a friend in Germany we had overlooked. Another incentive was that we both spoke some basic German. We wrote to our friend and he enthusiastically invited us to come and offered to get us started and to help us learn the ropes. We made the effort to go to Germany and give it a go. Our friend made good on his promise, and we soon polished our language skills and learned how to survive and prosper in our newly adopted country.

After having lived here for four years, the door is still wide open and new opportunities often arise, keeping us busy and productive. We work once a year at the Christmas circus for a month, and we have found that there are many people here who need to learn English at the universities, privately, and at various companies. We also got connected with a church that ministers mainly to new Christians who have emigrated from Iran and Afghanistan, and we have made friends in that circle. We formed a drama group there and regularly do Bible skits to help the Bible parables and stories come to life.

The principles we have learned from this experience are that sometimes you have to try new things and see what works and what doesn’t.

One thing we have learned is to keep in mind the importance of trusting that God will lead us to the place where we can be most fruitful and fulfilled. When we arrive there, the next step is to find what is needed in that situation and try to fill that need using the abilities and talents we have on hand; remembering that it is God that works in us to do His good pleasure. Our job is to listen to and follow the leadings of His Spirit so that we can be fruitful in our new venture.

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