I've had my share of trouble with doors ... both in getting them to open and in keeping them closed.
More than once I have locked the key inside my house, and have had to climb in through the window. You see, the habit of carrying keys around is still new to me after living in a small village in Alaska for years, where I only locked the door at night and the old car key stayed permanently inserted into the ignition.
But even then, I had my problems with doors and locks.
I once locked my car with the engine running at the local "dump" by accidentally knocking down the old lock knob while getting out of my car. And with that old car key still safe and snug in the ignition, I found myself stranded outside in a place frequented by bears. The attendant had to close up shop to give me a ride home to find a spare key, as we were out of range for a phone call. And who knows when another car full of garbage might appear! But at least it didn't happen further "out the road" (as Alaskans say), though I might have met a big Coastal Brown Bear out there willing to tear the car door off for me.
I didn't have the best of cars In Alaska. They rusted out from exposure to sea salt, and things fell off of them ... like the running board attached to my second-hand Bronco or the door handle off my little white Omni. I never did like that car. Before that I drove a red Subaru wagon that came with the church I served and had grown mushrooms on the floor of the front seat between pastors. But at least it would always start right up and make it through the snow.
The little white car couldn't even make it up a slight incline when our roads and yards were covered with ice. Once it was stuck on a clear level portion of icy road right in front of the police station and I had to ask for help from the police. They asked why I didn't have 4-wheel drive.
But the doors on that little white car were my biggest problem. One winter, one by one, they all just stopped working. First, the front door on the driver's side wouldn't open from the inside, and then it wouldn't open from the outside either. Then the front seat passenger door began to have similar problems. And sometimes handles on both sides got together as a united front and made my life even more frustrating.
Once I picked up an elderly person who needed a ride, and because of just the right combination -- neither one of us could get out of the car. We had to honk the horn to get rescued.
I finally resorted to tying a rope around the inside handle of the driver's side (which had begun to work again), rolled down the window just a crack, and let the rope dangle out along the outside of the door, so I could pull on it to get back in. No problems in that small community of car theft --- and no one would have wanted the dang thing anyway.
But now I live in a different world with a nice car that drives well and locks and unlocks to my touch alone on the handle ... without even producing the key from my pocket. And my greatest fear is that I'll lose or misplace that key, which some day might become my biggest frustration.
But although I have had my share of door frustrations, I guess that God must be having them too -- both from His efforts to open some doors to us and from our efforts to keep them closed. But in His case, the key often lies with us.
There's an interesting Bible verse where Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." But if you look closely at the popular painting by Warner Sallman that's inspired by this verse, you'll note there's a knocker on that door, but no handle or door knob. The only door knob is on the opposite side of the door, which means that the door can only be opened from inside.
And that's why the painting is called "Christ at Heart's Door".
But sometimes it's as hard for God to get into our hearts as it was for anyone to get into my car. And at least I had extended a rope. But guess what?! God does the same ... seeks us out, always ready to extend that rope to us, and continues to knock on the door of our hearts, even when we have shut that door up tight or even locked it.
Oh -- there are a lot of reasons why we might want to close that door to Him. We may have been hurt and wonder where He was. It may even be hard to trust God, if we've found we can't trust others or have been used, or mistreated by them. We might have even taken a little peek out the window and seen God standing there ... but not yet be ready to break down that door between us and Him ... that must be opened from within.
But don't worry ... God isn't going anywhere.
But as for us, we all have another choice to make. We can close the door of our hearts to others for whatever reason, good or bad, and even lock them out -- or we can choose to open the door of our hearts and invite them in ... even if it means extending a rope to them down the side of the door. The key to THAT door is in OUR hands.