“My child, don’t underestimate the value of the discipline and training of the Lord God, or get depressed when He has to correct you. For the Lord’s training of your life is the evidence of His faithful love. And when he draws you to Himself, it proves you are His delightful child.” Hebrews 12:5b-6 TPT
As followers of Christ, one of the primary lessons the Lord is interested in teaching us is how to live, move and walk in freedom. Not just freedom “from” certain things that hold us back, but above all, freedom “to” Himself. One would think we’d naturally want to go in that direction, wouldn’t we? The way of freedom? But it’s sometimes a hard lesson to learn. First, because our soul can be unruly at times, leading us right back to old places, old habits, old relationships we once swore we’d never reach for. But then sometimes, we reject the way of freedom simply because we never learned how to not operate in ways that led us to bondage in the first place.
Whatever the case may be, whether we knowingly or unknowingly start going in the wrong direction, the Lord is patient, loving and merciful enough to correct us, to discipline us. And I’ve learned one of the ways He corrects our course is by closing doors.
Over the years, I’ve learned there is safety in closed doors. I’m thankful for the times I’ve “knocked” on certain opportunities, or entertained certain ideas only to find those doors closed shut before me. There have been many times I can look back and see how God protected me from things that would have only caused me harm or taken me off course. But there’s another deeper lesson I’ve come to learn about closed doors. Yes, sometimes they’re for the purpose of protection. But other times, they’re to train us in the way of freedom.
We often think of freedom in terms of being freed “from” something or in terms of what we’re “not” doing. But the truest definition of freedom is the ability to respond to God fully out of who He created you and redeemed you to be.
Have you ever gone through a season where it seems every door you knock on is closed? No matter which direction you turn, it almost like you’re being penned in, or cornered, even? I went through this just last year. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to understand why. But it’s been such a valuable lesson, I thought I’d share.
Upon moving to NC, I took the first few months to get our family settled and then quickly began to look for ways to keep myself busy. I applied for various jobs, signed up to volunteer at some local charitable organizations, connected with the leadership at my church, reached out to start building relationships, contacted key leaders in the community, I could go on and on. I was ready to jump in! But an interesting thing happened: no matter which direction I turned, no matter which door I knocked on, it was like nothing opened to me. Total, complete silence and no interest whatsoever. Yes, it was very frustrating. Until I learned why.
“…you will offer yourself, but no one will want to buy you.”
It was in a time of prayer and reading my Bible that I came across this verse and suddenly, I began to understand. It’s found in the book of Deuteronomy, and to summarize, God had just brought the children of Israel out of Egypt where they had lived for 400 years as slaves and He was teaching them how to live in freedom. He was explaining to them what would happen if they continued to walk in the ways of freedom and what would happen if they didn’t. And again, let me point out – it wasn’t as important what they were being freed “from” – what was more important was what they were being freed “to“.
As we close the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy with this verse, He’s basically explained to them, (and of course, I’m paraphrasing here) The main purpose for which I’m moving you is so that I can draw you closer to Myself. I’m doing a new thing in you. And what I’m doing in you will translate to what I want to do through you. But in order to do that, I have to change the way you function. I don’t want you to function the old way anymore. He tells them, “You shall never see Egypt again…” in other words, I don’t want you to go back to the old way even though your tendency, your natural default, will be to go back. And if you do, “…you will offer yourself, but no one will want to buy you.” In other words, I’ll see to it that those doors will be closed to you. I’m going to frustrate your plans when you default to operating the old way. Because that’s how important it is to Me that you learn to operate in freedom. That’s how important it is to Me that you latch on to the new thing I want to do in you.
You see, here’s what I’ve learned, and here’s where the big lesson was for me: Sometimes we knock on doors to try and attach ourselves to something because it’s what we’ve always done. Was anything I had signed up for “bad” in and of itself? Of course not! It’s good to serve others. It’s good to be involved in our communities. It’s good to be part of other people’s vision and lend of what we have to move them forward in what God is calling them to. That’s how the body of Christ is intended to work. But it should never be at the expense of who He created and redeemed us – personally – to be. It should never be at the expense of neglecting or ignoring the divine purpose for which we were created. Because if it is, that’s actually not freedom. We’ve tied up and incarcerated the primary purpose for which we were created by keeping ourselves busy from the outside in, instead of living on divine purpose from the inside out.
Thankfully, it didn’t take me too long to learn this lesson. I’ve recognized a shift in the atmosphere around me. I’m so thankful for God’s grace, mercy and patience. I’m thankful for both the open doors and the closed ones. I’m thankful for the gift of frustration! It’s a gift, you know? As Valorie Burton says, “Frustration tells you something needs to change. Pay attention. It might just be the first step to moving in a better direction.”
Thanks for reading, friends. Whether you’re facing some closed doors now, or you can avoid this in the future, I hope this has helped or added something to your life you can come back to. May this year be the year that you walk fully in all He created and redeemed you to be!
To Him be the glory forever and ever,
Linda G. Riddle
habits good or bad eventually will form our character and the Lord is trying to prepare a people for His kingdom