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When Doors Slam Shut, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
November 8, 2022 7:05 am

When Doors Slam Shut, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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Today, on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll dedicates his message to those who are living with a closed door. You can't explain it. You didn't see it coming.

But there you are standing before a big obstacle and you're stuck. Chuck's practical application is drawn from a passage in Acts 16. Paul was on a missionary journey. The Spirit of God had closed the door to Bithynia, and so Paul and Silas made their way instead to Troas.

Let's pick up the study with a helpful review. Chuck titled his message, When Doors Slam Shun. When they went to sleep that night, they saw the stars in that cloudless night above Troas. They could hear the water of the Aegean splashing along the shoreline, not sure of what the next move was.

Now look at the next two words. At least in this version, that night, Paul had a vision. In this case, because they didn't have a Bible in the way God spoke to people in the days of an unfinished Scriptures, a vision came. And there was a man from Macedon. We do not know who he was. We never know, not through the rest of the Bible or we ever given a name. We don't know exactly where he is standing.

He was standing there. He's a man from northern Greece in the region of Macedonia on another continent. Where in Asia he is representing Europe, he represents that continent, that culture that's unfamiliar to Paul and Silas, those languages that they have not been around, a group of people they did not know, in an area they had not been in. All of it was new, all of it was unfamiliar, and it could have been foreboding had they not known for sure that it was the Spirit of God speaking through the man from Macedonia. And what is he saying?

He's not just saying, he's pleading. Come over to Macedonia and help us. You're not to be in Phrygia or Galatia or Missia or Bithynia or other parts along the way in the province of Asia, now that you have come to Troas, take the next boat and come over to Europe. I love the response.

So we decided to leave from Macedonia. Wait a minute before we sail with them. Look at the little pronoun. For the first time, Luke comes into the picture. Somewhere along the way in their journey, that second journey, they have picked up a companion, Dr. Luke is traveling with them now. So he who writes the book of Acts includes himself, and he says, so we decided.

So it's Paul and Silas and now Dr. Luke. And they together talk it over. And having concluded that God was calling us, I love that, to preach the good news there, I've left out very important words. We decided to leave from Macedonia at once, at once, door open, let's go.

Marvelous, marvelous response. It seems almost innocuous to us who are familiar with the Bible and with the story, but I want you to read it as if for the first time and realize what that meant, they were going to do a continent they had never visited before to reach a people they'd never known before. In a culture they'd never been experienced in before, dealing with opposition they'd never faced before. And on and on I could go, the unknown, and they don't hesitate.

Why? Because it was clear God had opened that door. I read in the next verse, we boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace and the next day we headed to Neapolis and from there we reached Philippi. And there they begin their ministry in Macedonia. I want to close my message with four principles that are practical, having to do with doors, and then also with a true story that is unforgettable. First the principles. Principle number one, since God is sovereign, he is in full control of all the doors in our lives. Since God is sovereign, he is in full control of all the doors in our lives. The implication here is obvious, you and I are not.

There's great comfort in knowing that God is God and we are not. If he's in charge of the doors, we are not. He is in full control of opening and closing doors.

Here's the second principle. Opening in full control, God takes full responsibility for those he closes and those he opens. It's not your responsibility, it's his. So I would say to you who tend to be really creative in your disobedience, give up prying closed doors. If the door is closed, accept the closed door, stop lamenting it, it's closed. He's taking full responsibility. Here's the third, and here's where it can get a little complicated.

Listen very closely. When a door of something good in our plan closes, it often leads us to an open door of something better in his plan. It often leads to an open door of something even better in his plan. Who would have ever guessed the ministry in Europe would have taken the turn it took or that God would use them as effectively as he did? How magnificent was the rest of this journey. Rather than weeping over what they weren't able to do remaining in Asia, they now took on the challenges of Europe through that open door thanks to the vision that came. Now here's the fourth, not until we walk through the door God opens will we realize the necessity of the ones he closed.

Let that down, at least in your mind. Not until we walk through the door of the one God opens will we realize the necessity of the ones he closed. I hope you are ready for, if you are at that closed door, I hope you are ready for a surprising open door. God's full of those surprises, speaking of which, my true story. Several years ago I was asked to speak at a reunion of the Navigators, a Christian organization mainly known for a scripture memory program.

But from far more than that, they work on campuses and among the military and with people in the business world and the cross section of the world. The Navigators get together for reunions on occasion and I had the honor to be invited to Estes Park, Colorado where I ministered with them and among them and hopefully to them for a period of several days. And as my time there drew toward a close, I needed a way back to the Denver airport. And one of the Navs said to me, we don't know each other, but I'd sure like to be the one that your designated driver to take you back to the airport. I've got a story I want to tell you. So it's his story, not mine that I'm calling this true story. We're driving along and he said to me, this goes back quite a ways back when all of four of our children, three of our children were very young.

The oldest one was just getting started in school and the other two were younger than he. And we were settled in the States. We had finished at one area and we thought, sure, the Navs would move us to another city in the States. And we look forward to the move. When the door closes, we're ready for that other one to open and go there and minister there for as long as he may want to use us. But I went to a Navigator conference and while we were there, some of the individuals who were a part of the leadership team got with me, said, we have prayed. We have fasted.

We've spent time before the Lord. And we believe that there is a new work to begin in the third world. And we believe you are the one, you and your wife and family are the ones to go.

It's in Uganda. He said at the time I couldn't even spell Uganda as I choked on the thought at first and I thought, well, my wife isn't with me. And by the way, that's always a nice out. My wife isn't here. I'll need to talk with her. And he said, I figured I could go home.

We could discuss this. So I went home and he had one of those marvelous wives who when she heard that said, that sounds fantastic. What a great opportunity for our family. And her faith was great enough to impact him. And he said, well, let's do it. And all he could think about was the reign of terror from Idi Amin that had just ended in Uganda. And that was the country where they were to go and open the work for the navigators.

Bear with me. The family of five flew to Kenya and landed in Nairobi. He set them up safely in a hotel in Nairobi.

They'd never been to Africa, any part of it. And they prayed together when he left. He rented a Land Rover and started making his way to the west, northwest, to the border of Uganda. He said, a chill went up my back and we're driving along and he tells me this, said a chill went up my back as night began to fall and I realized not long after we went across the border that the first ones I saw were a number of children carrying very heavy weapons. They were shooting them in the air. And as I drove by, they were pointing at me. They didn't shoot, but it was frightening. Because I realized this is a country pretty much out of control. And I prayed, oh Lord, please protect me.

I'm following your will, I don't know what you have in mind, but if it's Uganda you're taking us to, here I am, guide me. He said the next place I came was sort of a wide place in the road, it was dark, and there was a little dingy hotel there, but it was at least a place to stay. There were no street lights and the road was not paved, it was really rugged. He pulled over and locked the vehicle, took out his bags and walked up the steps and the man could barely speak English when he registered there at the hotel and there was one room available. It was up two flights of stairs, down a dark hallway, the Crete, and when he got to the door he fumbled for the key and finally found the hole and opened it and went in, turned on the light, a naked bulb hanging above a table, and he saw two beds.

One was unmade and one was still made. And he thought, oh, someone else is in this room, I'm sharing your room with somebody. And he said, tears filled my eyes, I just dropped to my knees and I just began to sob before the Lord. I said, Lord, I feel so alone, so alone. I've got my family and a hotel in Nairobi and I've got this room and I don't know what I'm going to face if this person comes in and, Lord, I just want you to know I want to do your will.

I want to be a part of your plan. I would love to open the work in Uganda, but just help me through the night. All of a sudden the door opens and here stands a six foot, six inch African. And beautiful English, he says, what are you doing in my room?

And what are you doing in my country? And he said, I got up off my knees and I said, well, he said, I'm about five, nine, five, nine and a half. So I said, well, I'm actually here looking into an opportunity and he's looking down at me like this. And I'm stumbling along and I'm with the navigators, the navigators, Colorado Springs, Colorado, come here. And he lifted me up and we danced around the room, the six foot, six inch African swinging me around.

And I guess we were dancing, he said, and finally he sent me down the table and he said, let's talk. I came to know Jesus as savior and I've gotten ahold of this little packet, these verses. And at the bottom of each verse, it says, the navigators, Colorado Springs, Colorado. That's you?

Yes. I have been praying for two years to meet someone who looks like a navigator. And he said, I didn't know if I was supposed to look like a verse pack or what, but that's me. He said, that's me.

You are from Colorado Springs. Oh, how marvelous this is. And he says, the man became my very best friend during the years I was in Uganda. He helped me understand the culture. He taught me nuances of the language on occasion when I would need it. He helped us find and build a part of our home. He helped our family get underway, understand how the education works there. He watched over my wife and protected her and our children. And it was just like inseparable.

He was a member of our board that we formed and the ministry got underway and it was just off and running. Thanks to this man who had come into the room, whom I'd never known before, he had never known me and out of the blue, another door opened and another door and another door and another. And he said, we remain there until our oldest son was in about the 11th grade.

And then we had finished the work and another NAB would come and take our place. And we were to go back to the States, took our children and our older son enrolled in high school, of course, and began his senior year. All seniors in that particular high school did a field trip in Washington, D.C. And before he left for his trip, I gave him $40 and I said to him, son, now that we've all kind of adjusted to a world here in these United States again, I want you to take this $40 and when you get to the nation's capital, I want you to buy whatever is meaningful to you as a memory so that every time you look at it, you'll remember your trip. And his son looked at him and said, I can do that.

And I'm grateful. He took the $40 and was gone about six or seven days. He said when he came back, by the way, we're by now driving up at the Denver airport, I'm about to get out. He said, wait, before you leave, you got to hear this. And he said, our son came home from Washington, D.C. and he had a little package and he said, I want you to stay away until I go to my room and I want to take care of something and then I want to call you and the family in and I want to show you something. So he said, okay.

He said, I know what to expect. Give a kid $40. What's he going to buy?

You never know. And he said, I walked in and my wife and I walked in, the kids behind us and there on the wall was a giant Uganda flag that he hung over his bed and he said, dad, those years are the greatest years of my life and I can't thank you enough for going by faith and taking us there to that land, to that country. I love that country. And he said, I'm about to enter college and when I finish, I want to go there as a missionary and serve the people of Uganda just like you did, you and mom did back when we first came as a family to that country. And he said, we all stood there. I want to dance around the room with him there and we were shouting and laughing and loving the moment and I realized that it came full circle that the, the door that had closed and we had so hoped it would open had not led us to an open door that seemed so impossible at the time, but it opened in such a way that even our children's lives were changed because of it. I don't know where you are and your story may not be nearly as dramatic as what I've just described. It doesn't matter, but you're at that place. Many of you, you're just not sure what's next for you. This passage of scripture was placed in the Bible.

Think of it that way. For Paul, it was Macedonia, Greece, and Europe. For my friend from the navigators, it was Uganda. I don't know what it is for you. For me, it was a return to Dallas back when a ministry was at its zenith and flourishing. When we returned to the place where we had schooled, we're part of the leadership there and have watched God begin a church and cultivate it. Through the process of time, lives are being changed, none more than ours, because we walked through an open door and didn't grieve over the closed one. I want you to bow your heads and I want to talk with you in these closing moments. You may have forgotten that Jesus Christ called himself on one occasion, the door. I am the door.

Your road may have taken you to a dead end street and you may have come to realize that your life has been a series of dead end streets until today. And you have now come to the door that opens to eternal life, hope, forgiveness. Or the door for you may be that you remove yourself from the center of your life since you are a believer and you put Christ on the throne of your life so that for a change he has his way and you don't get your way. And from here on out, you will remember that you are the clay, he's the potter. For some of you, as you come to this door, your need is to turn your life over to the Lord Jesus Christ and I plead with you to do that right now.

That's why you are listening today. That's why God brought you and me together to hear this true story and to hear it enacted in the lives of two men found in the scriptures. Wherever you are, make sure you don't stay at the closed door grieving and lamenting on what hasn't been but that you realize your need is to find where it's leading toward the open door of salvation or giving Christ full reign of your life come today.

Like Paul and Silas do this at once. Dear Father, thank you for closing doors which takes away all question. Thank you for moving us away from what we thought would be the direction we'd be going and now forcing us to look to you as you open a door that we couldn't even predict and never expected. Give us open hearts and willing minds and wills to follow you wherever that may lead and then as we do, be pleased as you reward us for the obedience as you use our lives effectively for Christ.

In His name I pray, everyone said, amen. As you heard Chuck's wind off speak today, have you been thinking about a door in your life that appears to be locked up tight? Here at Insight for Living, we hope and pray that Chuck's illustration and the story about Paul and Silas has restored your confidence in God's sovereign plan. This program features message number 10 in Chuck's brand new 12-part series called Clinging to Hope.

To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at If you've considered requesting Chuck's companion book with 12 complete chapters, we urge you to take advantage right away. In his book, Chuck explains what to do when doors are slammed shut, how to respond when unexpected tests rattle our world, and how to find hope when calamity crashes in. It's written in the style you've come to expect from Chuck and it's the perfect book to pass along to a friend or perhaps to a child or grandchild who needs a dose of encouragement. You might even use the book to facilitate lively conversation in a small group Bible study.

Again, Chuck's brand new book is called Clinging to Hope. To purchase a copy right now, go to slash Hope or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Well, as you would imagine, our world is filled with people who are desperately searching for hope and we make it our mission to send these daily programs far and wide so that people have access to authentic hope as defined in the Bible.

In fact, Insight for Living is translated into eight additional languages besides English, expanding our audience in parts of the world where Bible teaching is rare. So thanks so much for remembering the critical importance of giving generously to Insight for Living. To give a donation today, you can call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or you can give online at slash Donate. I'm Bill Meyer. Tomorrow, Chuck Swindoll talks about clinging to hope when God places you in complete solitude.

Listen Wednesday to Insight for Living. The preceding message, when doors slam shut, was copyrighted in 2019 and 2022. When the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc., all rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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