What do you do when God closes the door on the thing you most felt called to do? The thing that made you think, “Yes! This is what I’m made for!” I had great hopes to go back to Texas and serve at STEP (Skills Training for Emergency Preparedness – you know, the place I would disappear to and not post for weeks) again this year, but it was apparently not God’s will and He shut the way. I’ll be honest – it stung, and bad. I cried off and on all day when I heard that I wouldn’t be going. I find myself dreading the fact He might be taking STEP out of my life for good.
It makes me question. Did I go wrong somewhere? Did I put STEP higher than God? I know (and I’m not proud of this) I put it above my family this year. Am I still too immature to be entrusted with a position on staff? Is this a consequence for something I did, or is it a “No, I have something better in mind” moment?
But here’s the truth I have to swallow: regardless of how many questions I have for God, He does not owe me an answer to a single one of them. Nor is He required to take me where I want to go. And though the truth may seem harsh, at the same time I have His full assurance that He loves me and He knows what’s best.
So the only real question that needs asking is this: If God takes away the most meaningful ministry I’ve ever been involved in, can I be content to serve Him somewhere else? Do I trust Him enough to let go of the place and people I so love working with and be okay if He never puts it back in my hands?
Once again, it really boils down to surrender. I may be convinced that serving at STEP fulfills my role here on earth, but if I can’t surrender it completely to God to do with as He sees fit then I’ve no business being down there at all. So maybe God said “no” in order to humble me. It doesn’t matter how much I feel called to do something if He chooses not to give His permission and shuts the door against my prying knocking. Am I willing to give Him that right to do or deny my desires as He sees fit?
In the long run, whether or not I ever get to go back and serve in the future is irrelevant. What matters is what I do instead of STEP this year. I don’t know what that will look like in detail yet, but here are some good starters:
- Seek God and keep Him first – Getting up early to spend quality time in His presence, keeping scripture-reading and prayer in balance so I don’t neglect one or the other. Earnestly seeking God’s will and submitting to Him daily.
- Right the areas of my life where I’m at fault – Prioritizing investing in my family and the friends God has blessed me with here at home instead of letting them fall by the wayside. Examining myself to see where else I may have gone wrong and confessing and dealing with it.
- Strive for, and pray for, maturity – Targeting the weaknesses in my character that I’ve allowed to run rampant (laziness, etc.), and with God’s help taking steps to overcome them and build stronger character.
- Encourage others – Writing notes and building people up at home just like I would be doing if I was at STEP. After all, it’s needed everywhere in this world, not just at rather intense four-week-long programs. Doing what was the biggest joy-giver and fulfiller while I was at STEP last year anyways.
- Enjoy where I am – Appreciating the joys of home instead of wishing I was somewhere else. So really, contentment. After all, it’s not like my life has no purpose without STEP.
I hope that’s an encouragement if you’re facing a closed door in your own life. Don’t forget that “in His presence is fullness of joy” and seeking God as often and as long as possible is a wonderful way to find comfort in the face of heavy disappointments.