|WENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, FOLLOWING MY GRADUATION FROM HIGH school (or Gymnasium in Germany), I spent more than three months traveling through Scandinavia. My friends and I saw wonderful landscapes, tranquil lakes, and breathtaking fjords as we drove our homemade mobile home through Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway. We hiked for days through Lapland, very close to the Arctic Circle, and enjoyed (at least to a certain degree) weeks of nightless summer. Sitting at the most northern point of Europe, the North Cape, we saw the sun go down, barely touch the horizon, and then come up again.
I took thousands of photos during this trip—these were the “BD” (before digital) days— and even with all the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding nature, I was fascinated by the remarkable variety of doors that we saw. Colors are important in a region that has long, dark winters, and many of the doors had wonderful colors. I saw blue, red, green, and orange doors. I enjoyed carved wooden doors surrounded by flower boxes. Often, when we visited small towns or major cities, I found myself wandering in the town center, looking for doors and taking photos of the most interesting ones.
Doors have been significant in my life. Right from the beginning of my personal walk with Jesus I discovered an important principle of the Christian life. The “your will be done” principle of Matthew 6:10 is best explained by the open-door metaphor. Committing myself to my Creator and Savior, I ask Him to open or close doors. I remember many times when I looked at a closed door in my life, wishing fervently that it would open, only to realize much later that it had been a blessing that it had been closed. I also remember other doors that I really did not want to enter—but that opened. Going through them required faith and courage but resulted in so many blessings.
In the ancient Near East, city gates were more than the door to the city. They not only were crucial for the defense of a city, but also marked one of its central spaces. Usually, gate constructions involved additional rooms adjacent to the entranceway that were used for the elders and judges of that city to mete out judgment (cf. Ruth 4:1, 2). Later on, these gate spaces were used to read the Torah (or Scripture) and were the predecessors of synagogues.
Jesus recognized the centrality of the door/gate concept. “I am the door” (John 10:9, NASB;* other versions use “gate”), He claimed, and then He added a significant qualifier: “If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved.” Now that is quite a startling (and exclusive) statement—on a par with the other “I am” statements of Jesus that we can find in the Gospels.
As we look around us we see many doors beckoning us to step in. Some indeed look attractive but may not live up to their promise. Others look forbidding but may introduce new vistas and perspectives that may help us to grow and stretch our hearts and minds to look beyond the familiar.
I wish I could know what awaits me in 2010. I wish I could recognize some of the doors that I will encounter this year. I know that the One who said that He is the door through which I need to enter into His presence is ready to walk with me through open doors and will make sure that other doors are shut tight. As I look at some of the old pictures of doors from my long-past Scandinavian journey and remember God’s leading over the past decades, I again marvel at His wisdom and guidance in my life. Take some time today to remember your open and closed doors, and as you face new doors take the hand of the One who is the Door—as well as the Life. That is Life with a capital “L.”
*From the New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Gerald A. Klingbeil is an associate editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published January 28, 2010.