There were doors all round the hall, but they were all locked, and when Alice had been all the way down one side and up the other, trying every door, she walked sadly down the middle, wondering how she was ever to get out again.
–Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
In this first adventure by Lewis Carroll, after having fallen into Wonderland, the heroine finds a room of doors, all of which appear to be closed, all of which appear to be locked. She cannot return to the previous room because it is where she landed, but neither does there appear to be a new path for her to follow. The circumstance of closed doors is all she perceives. There are periods of life when we find ourselves in Alice’s exact position, either perplexed or distraught (or both) at the anxious truth that the door we just entered through has swung shut and we are faced with the uncertainty of where to proceed next. God, however, is right beside every one of us; it is when the flesh lamentingly believes the lie of abandonment, the Spirit reassures with quiet peace that your tender Guide remains steadfastly at your side. If locked doors are all you perceive, remember that God sees an open door where you do not. He is not one to leave His child wandering aimlessly through this life.
In the situation of locked doors, there are at least three courses of action that can be pursued, actions that inevitably overlap because all are paths toward the same goal.
Regarding the first, the door of Contentment can be a difficult threshold to cross because you are aware it is a small step and not a league plunging you into the mysterious new profession God has for you. When Contentment opens, you see a corridor leading you to the next room. Though haste may urge you to fly through the space and wrench open the door of your future, it is imperative you check your impatience. Instead, you must tread carefully and purposefully through this corridor, eyes open to the tiniest of details and ears alert to God’s whispers. You still have knowledge to amass, wisdom to acquire, and experience to gain before you are permitted to pass through the door at the end. Do not resent the daily tasks you perform; use the mundane as a chance to grow in patience. Appreciate each day as is arrives, asking God to open your eyes to the insight you can absorb through the activities you partake in. It is in the space of Contentment that you must be willing to be shaped by your Father. If you allow Him to sculpt and change your character, you will find when you reach the end of the corridor that God has suitably equipped you for the task in the next room. Thus readied, you will be capable of devoting yourself to what He has, in turn, prepared for you to encounter.
The second possibility revealed to you may be the humbling truth that you are not viewing the circumstance from God’s perspective. God is not a deity who delights in the confusion of His servants; rather He yearns to open their eyes to grasp the larger picture that He Himself beholds. When all you recognize are locked doors and you fear yourself tottering toward the brink of dismay, voice these concerns to your Lord, who is attentive to your cries. Seek His knowledge, His vision, instead of allowing the blocked paths to sway your judgment. When you rest in His Spirit and abide in the refuge of stillness, consciously yielding to His desires, your spiritual sight will sharpen and you will begin to see the doorway God wants you to pass through. In some cases, a locked door will not be locked at all, but your resistance to His plans will erroneously declare, “That is not the path He has for me!” and thus redirect you to look elsewhere. The very door you insistently avoid may very well be the one portal God is urging you toward. Take courage, dear one. Do you not serve a Lord who lays out beneficiary trials and unexpected blessings for His child? He sees your heart and He knows your doubts, yet He will equip you for the tasks ahead, for you are the one He has chosen for the assignment. A second option will be the door He has for you to pass through may be none of the visible choices at all, and this is the situation Alice finds herself in. After learning all of the doors are locked, she spies a small key on a table (and, indeed, God and His point of view become our key in this analogy). Thinking it must fit one of the locked doors, she tries all of the locks, only to understand the key fits none of them. It is then that she notices a low curtain. Drawing it back, she discovers a tiny door, ascertaining this is the golden key’s counterpart. From this new insight, we learn that the path God has for us may be veiled from our eyes entirely. We continue to pace between the locked doors, but the key refuses to cooperate because none of the locks are the correct match. If you navigate from God’s perspective, you will find the path He wishes for you to explore, strange and foreign though it may appear.
The third course that often follows through the passage of Contentment is that a transformation must occur before God will let you through the door branded with your next goal. The difference here, however, is you are informed of the next step, but the door remains obediently shut despite your entreaties. In Carroll’s story, Alice finds the door she must pass through. Key in hand, she approaches the door with confidence and is able to open the portal with ease; through it, she glimpses a garden, a realm of vibrancy unlike the dark area where she resides. Unfortunately, Alice realizes she is much too big to fit through so small a space. A change, therefore, needs to take place. She must transform, adapt to become something different, though not to the forsaking of her core character and identity; often, the same is said of us. God, gracious to allow you to see the task He has in mind for you, bids you to wait on His timing. The room is ready, but you must be prepared before your arrival. Work must be done within so you can immerse yourself in the realm without. Do not allow impatience or resentment to gnaw at your anticipating spirit. God is not malicious nor deceitful in His plans, but careful and purposeful in all He does. If He tells you of your future task yet refrains from allowing you to step past the threshold, do not doubt His sovereignty. His perception is flawless, His reasons loving, and His timing intentional. Yield yourself to His promptings and revelations, and permit God to enact the necessary changes that will allow you become the vessel He requires for the specific task He has promised you.
Fundamentally, it is imperative to remember God is with you every step of your journey. Pace the room of locked doors carefully, testing each entry with the Spirit through prayer and discernment. If you feel God leading you to a door that causes you to tighten with dread and dislike, voice your concerns to your Savior, trust in His promises, and plunge forth with His courage at your back. If you are led to the door but cautioned to wait, heed His advice and pause in patience until you receive His leave to step forward—He knows when the time will be right, and you will praise Him when your period of waiting has ended. If you are led through the corridor of Contentment, yet have been given no inkling of your future tasks, remain alert to His promptings, but do not dismiss the wisdom and wonder to be discovered in your current situation. Above all, cover your circumstances in thanksgiving, for He loves you and is eager to show you what He has in store for you when the moment has come. God is not a God of disorder or mockery, nor are His commands meant to be burdensome. If your spirit gnashes its teeth at your sovereign Lord, succumb yourself to His will, allowing Him to plant His desires in your heart. Persevere under patience and contentment, confidently trusting in His tender goodness and purposeful timing, and the path to the garden will open up before you.
I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
—Philippians 4:11b (ESV, 2001)
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
—Psalm 27:14 (NRSV, 1990)
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My loving eye on you.
—Psalm 32:8 (NIV, 2011)
Hear counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come. Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand.
—Proverbs 19:20-21 (AMP, 1987)