My husband and Jerome Jr.
By the looks of the narrow, rutted pavement and our surroundings, we had time-traveled sixty years back into the deep woods of the South. We began questioning the legitimacy of our GPS directions as deserted wooden shacks enclosed by piled debris dotted the landscape on either side of the road. Continuing our quest to find food, we reached what appeared to be a dead end. In front of us, a rustic handmade sign slanted against old wooden slats declared we had reached The Old School Diner. The three of us just gazed in guarded wonderment at the right turn we were making into a parking lot lined with layers of carpeting. Really? This…the 5-star restaurant we had discovered online while refilling the car with gas! As we peered to our left, our eyes worked overtime trying to read the collage of colorful vintage signs on a rather dingy-looking structure. In the middle of this building front, a bluish wooden door held an explicit ENTRANCE sign. We slowly continued through the lot which actually held about six or seven parked vehicles…one of which was a Lexus. Really?
A typical house, along with a couple of smaller edifices, was on the other end of the parking lot to the right. After steering our way through the waves of carpet, we turned around. Heading back out, I kept hoping for a quick exit. Always ready for an adventure, my husband managed to keep most of his comments optimistic. Our driver reasoned that we could always order a grilled cheese sandwich if the food seemed questionable. As for me, I was rather fearful of the whole scenario which had red flags written all over it and voiced my opinion accordingly. But we were hungry, tired of riding, and ready to get out of the car. Before I knew what was happening, we parked near the front door. Really? At this point, I opened my car door on the passenger side, slowly stepped out, shutting the car door behind me. My other two companions trailed close behind. Hesitantly, I strolled toward the entrance, contemplating the perils that awaited us.
Reflecting back, I realize that I have hesitated many times in front of closed doorways that held similar trepidation. The unknown was waiting for me, not to mention the question of who would be greeting me. Unanswered questions led to deeper fears: What was going to be demanded of me on the other side? How would I know what to say? What would others think if this was a bad choice? On and on, the questions persisted, and at times I walked away from doors that held too many anxieties. I recognize now that my perspective was all wrong. Insteadof dwelling on the undetermined fabrications, I should have been anticipating the possibilities, even a God-ordained opportunity.
Any DOOR can cause a dilemma because a choice must be made. It is not the door, however, that is intimidating, nor its color or size. The factors behind each door may convey emotional awareness, joyous anticipation or unjustified fear. Familiar doors open without mental thought, but it takes steps of courage to walk through particular doors which hold anxiety-laden conditions. I believe that God opens doors, particularly if I have been praying for an opportunity like a new job or financial security or a healed relationship. However, I can affirm that more times than not, the door of opportunity that God presents is a closed door until I actually open it. That requires a choice on my part, the turning of the door knob so that I can walk through the threshold. Without action and a step of courage no matter how weak, the door remains shut.
DOORS are very symbolic, and my analysis is that doors come in three main categories. The DOOR TO GRACE is always welcoming, and if we are willing to open this door, God’s salvation, His love and protection, and His great wisdom is available. God waits at the door to our hearts, knocking and desiring a relationship with us. Pride often detains us from walking through to the abundant life God prepares for us. This same pride hinders our relationship with God when we do not trust Him and decide to handle situations our way. This DOOR is a choice that will affect our journey all through life.
The DOOR OF OPPORTUNITY awaits before us persuading us to move out of our comfort zones, broadening our lives with new avenues for growth. Too often, we only assume risks that loom before us, bringing dread and fears to the forefront. Being anxious, we fail to see the prospects in trying something new, and at that point are not trusting God to help us grow in ways that could make a difference. This DOOR is a choice that will affect our chances of leading a meaningful and purposeful life.
The DOOR TO CHANGE allows us to move away from stagnant conditions or negative attitudes. This door provides a next step or change in direction or outlook. A current situation or thought process may be keeping us stuck in a rut–even failure to move on after experiencing disloyalty, the consequences of a destructive decision, or an emotional loss. Unwillingness to act may be the greatest enemy-not seeking reconciliation or asking forgiveness in a relationship, playing the victim instead of living in victory, holding on to the past instead of moving forward into healing, OR refusing help from others because of pride. This DOOR is a choice that offers liberating freedom but can be the most difficult to walk through because whatever has you stuck can be paralyzing.
Before I could take a deep breath trying to squelch my wild imagination, the door swung open and a tall African-American man came bounding through with his huge toothy grin and a welcoming greeting that distracted my thought pattern. Caught off guard, I could not question the friendliness of this man’s demeanor. It was obvious he meant to take care of three tired, hungry travelers. Hence, in the town of Harris Neck, Georgia, we three comrades were ushered into The Old School Diner.
As the door closed behind us, the musty air hit our nostrils as we were led through a dim-lighted room filled with a large table upon which lay newspaper articles and magazine photos-the historic notoriety of this restaurant over several years. As our host led on, he spoke about another room up ahead through a hallway that connected our first entrance room to what the man referred to as the Ben Affleck room. I am sure my thought radar would have given me away, “Come on, now? Really?” However, the room held only 4 or 5 small round tables with chairs and on the walls were collages of pictures of visitors over time. Sure enough, Ben Affleck had been in this room…more than once. We were then guided through another doorway that brought us to a room the size of a huge ballroom with tables and chairs throughout, plus a stage area in front of us and a bar on our left. Being February 17, Valentine decorations were prevalent as were other décor, but one outstanding feature stood above the rest–the walls and dividers were plastered with more picture collages. We soon discovered from Jerome Jr., our effervescent host, that other famous visitors had crossed the threshold to enter The Old School Diner-Simon Cowell, family members of Elvis, Al Pacino, and Michael Orr to name a few of the celebrities-some of whom have coastal properties nearby. Really!
Two hours later, our friend Nancy, my husband, and I all agreed that we had had an adventure of a lifetime. Had we not parked the car and gotten out, we would not have feasted on delicious jumbo shrimp, fresh ocean tilapia, and BBQ ribs that filled one huge platter. Homemade hush puppies and side dishes rounded out the meal-a meal we decided honored Nancy’s late husband Doug. The Old School Diner was his kind of place, and Jerome Jr. had promised we would not be disappointed. We had the opportunity to meet Jerome Jr.’s father who was the chef and take a tour of the building, learning the story behind the beginnings of The Old School Diner thirteen years ago. We were treated like family. What memories were created during that venture behind a door none of us knew existed!
As we continued our journey to Orlando for the John Maxwell certification conference, Nancy and I realized that the choice to be a member of the John Maxwell team also had many unknown factors. Nevertheless, we were choosing to walk through another unique door–one that is now blessing us with God-given opportunities.
Doors unlock fresh realms of transition or new passageways; doors can bring comfort and delight, or hardship and fear…even an ending. If the attempt is never made to walk through a variety of doors, life becomes stagnant, and restlessness sets in. Do you venture through an unfamiliar door with wonder at what will be in store for you on the other side? Or do you hesitate to find the courage to walk through? What door are you afraid to stride through right now? You may not always know the whys in choosing a particular door, but if you never walk through, you will never know the blessings that God has in store or the opportunities to grow or the adventure that changes an ordinary day into a special one.
What door have you failed to walk through that may be an opportunity God wants for you?
A favorite proverb says: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21 We all make choices, have plans we intend to follow, and doors that need to be opened. Even if we make a choice not to open a door, God never changes. At the end of the day, God’s purpose prevails. His GRACE is always available…so what are you waiting for? Walk through the DOOR!
Walking with you–Just Kathy