Nothing hurts quite so much as being shut out. Have you ever approached a lovely gate leading to an avenue of trees with a mansion you longed to enter almost out of sight around a curve, only to be stopped short by a dignified little sign “Private Property”? Have you looked hopefully toward a marvelous wood door waiting to see if it would swing open to welcome you in for tea? Have you stopped on the beach to admire a beautiful seaside cottage with flagstones leading to the steps and a sign “No Admittance” at the point where sand stops and the green begins? Have you ever knocked at the door of acquaintances who you thought would be glad to get to know you better, seen the curtains move slightly, felt eyes observing you, but then found the door stayed shut? Have you ever had a door open a crack after you had knocked and then suddenly close again with a slam?

Surely sometime in your life you have experienced rebuff in the form of shut doors keeping you outside when you wanted to be inside. It wasn’t just the desire of sharing the fireside and food with the person on the other side of the door but also the desire to communicate, and perhaps to offer something that you thought would be welcome and helpful. Just the words shut door, locked door, barred door, can bring to mind memories of deep disappointment.

Happily, most of us have a longer string of memories of open doors, of shouts of welcome. “Come in! It’s great to have you here! We have been getting ready for you.” We have seen curtains move aside before we have been halfway up the path and the door burst open before we could knock. We have heard cries of, “Tea is ready! Come eat with us. Here, take the most comfortable chair.”

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). What an overwhelming statement of fact: the everlasting God, the second Person of the Trinity, the Creator of the universe, the Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, stands at the door and knocks. What a picture! The mighty One who is able to do all things does not force his way in but waits for someone on the other side to open the door. What a staggering picture of the importance of human beings made in the image of God! God knocking at the heart’s door of an individual whom he has created, and waiting for the door to open or to remain closed. The person is not a zero, nor just a computerized number; he or she is a being who chooses whether to let God in or keep him out.

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Then the gentle, overwhelming words, “I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” They suggest the personalness of sharing a fireside teatime, or an intimate suppertime on a balcony, with the One at whose feet John fell, and who replied to John, “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Rev. 1:17, 18). Amazing thought: we can sup with the One who was the first and is the last and who will be forever.

When? When the time comes for the marriage supper of the Lamb and he serves us the bread and the wine as we remember together his death for us? That is future. But this knocking, opening, and eating together seem also a present possibility, to be our experience when we first hear the knock and open in the sense of believing, accepting, and being born again.

However, even after this the shut door is an ever-present temptation, one that Satan would like to keep before us at all times. When calamity hits, when disappointment plunges us into depression, when uncertainty as to what to do next smashes our nerves, when fears about decisions tear at us, when we grow impatient about waiting for the Lord’s guidance and are tempted to rely on our own cleverness, when we feel an urge to push aside prayer and jump into something first, then the gentle “knock” can easily be left unanswered. It is easy to fail to recognize what we are substituting for a time of “supping” with the Lord. It is easy never to think of prayer and an intimate time of being with the Lord as two-sided.

It is the worst kind of egoism to ignore what God has told us clearly in Revelation 3:20, to refuse to think of his waiting outside on our front step or our flagstone walk. We picture ourselves as deciding not to knock at his door, deciding not to rush into his presence with our communication, deciding not to call upon him in our trouble. Indeed, God has given us this set of pictures, too. But it has struck me recently that many of us are time after time selfishly ignoring the fact that we have failed to open “the door” that depends on our specific choice and action.

Many of us never connect Christ’s standing at the door and knocking, his waiting for us to let him in, his expectation of supping with us and communicating with us, with prayer, or with our times of desperate need. We forget to take literally the fact that we have a Friend, Counselor, and Guide knocking at our door at the very time we need his help. We may think we are too low in faith or even in energy to call for his help, but we forget that we are told to open the door, sit down, and share a time of refreshment. Things don’t have to be sparkling; we don’t need to feel ready for a guest. This friend standing at the door is a truly understanding friend who knows us well and is always sensitive to our state of mind.

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What makes it even more wonderful is to remember, that this One who knocks at the door knows what is is to be The Door himself. He himself is an open door! “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:7–9). There is only one door that opens into the place of eternal salvation, and Jesus himself is that door. Others try to point to themselves or to others as doors to eternal life, to peace, to heaven, to God, but Jesus says any other “doors” would lead the sheep away from the fold for which they are looking.

This One who is our Door himself takes our hand when we come in through him, “and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). So his hand holds us fast, inside the door. “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (v. 29). His welcome inside his open door is for ever and ever!

Christ’s work to prepare this welcome was nothing less than the agony of the cross, his death. What bitterness, what icy hardness of heart, what sharp disappointment, what misunderstanding can keep us from opening the door and pouring out all that troubles us into his listening and understanding ears? There are many doors upon which he knocks; don’t keep him standing outside the only one you can open.


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