A week ago Wednesday my friend Kelli and I were talking about some tapes she had given away to someone and couldn't find -- one of which was on the Doctrine of the Open Door. "Oh," I said, "I really want to hear that one." But it turned out there was only part 1 of 2 on the shelves back at Grace Bible Church where she'd gotten it and she didn't think they could make any more of them. And the doctrine wasn't available online either. "Well," I said, "I'm sure he'll repeat sooner or later. Maybe he'll even teach about it at the conference!" It was a totally random remark because we had no reason to think that would be the case, and we both laughed to think of that happening.
Thus we were absolutely blown away when Saturday night, as part of the line by line study of Rev 3:8a ("I know your deeds. Behold I have put before you an open door which no one can shut...") the pastor began a study of the Doctrine of the Open Door!
An open door refers to a grace opportunity God provides us related to giving meaning, purpose and definition to our lives. God puts before us many doors -- as many, in fact, as we have positive volition enough to walk through. Some are universal, like salvation, and, for believers, the door of communication of truth, while others are individual-specific, like the open door of service.
I especially appreciated the information given in connection with the door of communication of truth -- that it has two sides. One side where the communicator must be given an open door to communicate the truth of God's word and the other side, where the receiver is given the open door to receive that communication. And this part is what really struck me:
"If you stay receptive to the communication and application of the truths of God's word, live in your spiritual gift and the niche He has for you, He will bring everything to you: your pastor-teacher, the word of God, the spiritual gift itself, and even an occupation that gives you the time and money to do what He wants you to do. Whatever your spiritual gift is, prepare yourself in it and God will provide the people to feed off it. That means you don't need to employ all the gimmicks and publicity efforts the world systems says you do. He will do it. It's simple.This meshes so well with the whole concept of gathering readers for one's books. The readers have to be lined up -- they have to have the time and inclination, in a way they have to be prepared to receive what a writer has been led to provide.
"He will nourish, nurture and mature your spiritual gift, not you.
"In Col 4:3 Paul asks for the Colossians to "pray for us that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Chirst..." Paul realizes he needs help -- the people must be lined up to receive the information and Paul must be in the right place at the right time to provide it."
At the very the beginning of my published life, I received confirmation of this fact in an email from a woman who said she'd walked into the bookstore looking for a devotional to help her with some tough times she was having in her life. She looked through all the books on the devotionals shelf and found nothing that interested her, turned around and there was Arena standing on the shelf behind her. For some reason she picked it up and that is the book she bought and took home. Then she wrote me to say it helped her far more with her troubles than any of the devotionals she'd considered would have.
It's all His work, His plan, His grace. We just have to rest in that.
PS. I'm posting over at Speculative Faith tomorrow (Wednesday) continuing my reflections on how obvious to make the Christian elements of my work and what has come of my decisions. I hope you'll check it out. It'll be my last time to blog over there until the first Wednesday in November.