Dead Ends and Closed Doors
By Pastor Mike Eleveld
It seems that our lives are an endless series of dead ends and closed doors. The twist and turns and troubles of life can overwhelm us. Our reactions to these troubles often result in a sense of hopelessness and futility. In fact, that is our default setting as human beings….the worse that can happen is often anticipated. While trying to remain positive can be a struggle for the best of us, the addict or alcoholic will often try to self-medicate in order to ease their pain.
That is why Steps One through Three are so important in Recovery. We begin to cultivate a Hope and Faith that God will be with us to help and guide us through the maze of trials, trauma, and trouble. When life presents a Dead End or a Closed Door we begin to understand that God has options that we cannot see that He will guide us toward and reveal to us.
The story of Stephen in the Bible illustrates this point. In Acts 6 & 7 we have the story of Stephen. He was selected as one of the seven men to assist the Apostles in caring for the needs of widows and orphans in the Church. He was young, energetic, and full of zeal for the Lord. He was possibly seen as the future for the early church….the man God could use to lead the church once the Apostles passed away.
Yet, the Story of Stephen takes a nasty turn. One day, while preaching about Jesus on the streets of Jerusalem, he was confronted and arrested for blasphemy. Stephen gave an impassioned defense of his beliefs and turned the tables on his accusers. The religious leaders wanted none of his teaching so they dragged him outside to stone him to death. Note with me that the Sanhedrin is so deep in the pockets of Rome that they no longer need permission to kill the opposition like they did with Jesus. Summary execution is now the rule of the day.
The Bible says, “…and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” Acts 7:58
A pile of clothes guarded by Saul of Tarsus…while they did their work of stoning Stephen to death. Can you imagine the reaction of the early church? Steven was their future! He was going to provide leadership after the Apostles were gone. The Romans and Jewish Leadership can execute our best and our brightest! What are we going to do?
A dead end for the church…a closed door. And yet, the early church had no idea that the man who would turn the world upside down for Jesus Christ and end up writing half of the New Testament….was standing twenty-fine feet away guarding a pile of clothes. Saul of Tarsus would later be converted to Christianity and become St Paul the Apostle.
There are no such things as dead ends and closed doors for God. He has ways when we see no way. That is what our Faith and our Hope teaches us. And that is what we will experience if God is the object of our Hope and Faith.