I think it has been a long time since I have shared the following story at TSF, surely longer than the 4.5 years we have been doing these online devotionals. It is about the night that I was truly angry with God.
Having completed a five-year double major in Bible and music, I had gone on to Dallas Theological Seminary – a four-year program. Following the first year in Texas (our second year married), finances were rather tight and I was working evenings at UPS to get by. We had been attending a Bible Church of about 300 or so in weekly attendance and enjoyed it very much.
At the beginning of my second year, the church announced that they were looking for a minister of music. It was exactly what I had studied for in college and made complete sense to me that this was surely God’s leading. The timing of things, the need … it all looked obvious.
I applied for the position and had a very good interview. Being pulled aside after a Sunday night service, I was told that they had decided to give the position to another fellow whom I had previously known distantly from both college and seminary. He was not an honorable fellow in my view (he proving me correct in that judgment before much time would pass). I was REALLY disappointed and frustrated.
Driving home that evening (Diana was not with me, being sick at home), I remember yelling at God and pounding the steering wheel, saying “There is no possible excuse for this! You know I need this job. You put me through all of that music education and then dragged me halfway across the country to Texas … and now the perfect situation opens up and you allow it to go to that other guy! This is inexplicable!”
After settling down about the whole experience, I came to a point of faith by saying that if I never got to do a music job and that my Dallas years would be filled with cleaning swimming pools and moving boxes, it would be OK. A month or two later I was contacted out of the blue about applying for a position at another Dallas church – one that was much larger and more established. I zipped through the process and within a couple of weeks was leading a music program comprised of some of the finest and most talented people I’ve ever known. The church staff that I joined was simply fabulous, including two older pastors who mentored me and to whom I owe most everything.
The closed door that looked so wrong led to an open door that proved to be so right and so much better. And that is the essence of our passage today.
Paul, Silas and Timothy had visited the previous churches from the first missions journey, and now it would seem clearly obvious to expand the operation to the west and north of this region. Why not? What else made any sense? Here is the story …
Acts 16:6 – Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Suddenly there were closed doors, but the trio moved on … finding more closed doors, but they kept moving. Coming to the west coast of what is today the country of Turkey, Paul in Troas has a dream that he understands to be from God – a vision of a man of Macedonia calling to him to come there. This is the region of northern Greece, and to travel there would require a multiple-day trip by sea. Immediately they prepare to go, believing this is the place where God was opening a new door of opportunity.
This event that we call “The Macedonian Call” involved the gospel going from one continent to another, from Asia to Europe. It was the grand vision of God to see the message moving rapidly to the west. In time, the areas skipped would see the gospel message come to them as well.
As with Paul’s experience, God can be trusted in our lives to handle the opening and closing of doors. The person is yet to be found who can truthfully look back at God closing a door in their life race and say, “God really messed up on that one!”