Monday, July 17, 2006

When God Closes a Door

Yeah, yeah, He opens a window. We all know the saying. The problem is that it makes God's actions sound amazingly trite and arbitrary, doesn't it?

Right now, Beth HaMashiach is facing a closed door. For the last couple of years, we've rented space from Eastgate Fellowship, who extended the right hand of fellowship to us. Unfortunately, Eastgate has disbanded following the loss of several prominent members and the retirement of her pastor, and is selling the property. We had hoped that the new congregation, whoever they were, would be amenable to us continuing to rent. Without going into details, they are not.

Sometimes its hard not to be angry or bitter. On an intellectual level, you know that you're just renting, but you still start to feel like a place is your home, and it feels like someone is trying to steal it from you.

But God is gracious. Attempts to find another church to rent from fell through, but we've found a storefront for rent just up the road from where we were. The location is prominent, visible from a major highway. The square footage of the storefront is just about perfect for our needs. It's a chance to have our own space to set up the way we want it--the teens are already drooling over the chance to decorate their room just the way they want it (within reason, of course). We can make this a true Messianic synagogue--we've even got the sanctuary oriented towards Jerusalem. Not renting from a Sunday church both opens up the possiblity of having more services and also removes a barrier to our Jewish brothers and sisters in checking us out, since many are wary of entering a church.

There are, of course, a lot of expenses involved, but our Father is providing the funds, as He has promised: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (your needs) will be added unto you . . ." There are going to be sacrifices in both time and money for everyone, but since when has anything worthwhile not required sacrifice?

When David found himself on the run from Saul, he was devastated--just read a few of the Psalms he wrote. His life seemed to be over. He was even reduced to acting like a madman so that the Philistines wouldn't kill him. But because he was on the run, and because the only skill he had to sell was his skill with the sword, he learned the art of war. When soldiers who were unwilling to live any longer under Saul's rule came to him with their families, he learned to lead a people. Had he not been forced from his comfortable life as a shepherd, or from his equally comfortable position as the court harpist, he would never have learned the skills he needed to be the king that Israel needed him to be.

Or take Daniel. He was kidnapped from Jerusalem as a teen or young man, made a eunich in the service of Babylon (which, by the way, precluded him ever being able to worship in the Temple again), and forced to learn the pagan rites of his new masters. But if he had not been, then he would not have risen to his high position in Babylon and the Medo-Persian empires so as to be able to see to the needs of his people, and its quite likely that Cyrus would not have let the Jews go at their appointed time (Josephus records that it was Daniel who presented Cyrus with the scroll of Isaiah which contained the command from God to let His people return to Jerusalem).

Yeshua Himself knew about closed doors. He moved to Galilee after He was rejected by His hometown of Nazareth. Ultimately, the rejection by His people opened the way for Him to be made a sacrifice on their behalf. That same closed door opened the way for the Gospel to go to the Gentiles.

It's hard to face a closed door, especially when God doesn't immediately show us the open one. Sometimes we simply have to wait and trust in His promises--and it is in those hours of exile that we learn the most about true faith.


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