Standing Strong Through the Storm OPEN AND CLOSED DOORS*

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*The text below is taken from Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

The Bible has much to say about open doors but many times – even as Christians – we seem to face obstacles on our path and in our ministry. Blocked doors can be VERY frustrating. Yet God often uses closed doors to advance His cause.

 Bible teachers like Max Lucado remind us that God closed the womb of a young Sarah so he could display His power to the elderly one. He shut the palace door on Moses the prince so he could open shackles through Moses the liberator. He marched Daniel out of Jerusalem so he could use Daniel in Babylon.

And even Jesus knew the challenge of a blocked door. When he requested a path that bypassed the cross, God said no. He said no to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane so He could say yes to us at the gates of heaven.

It’s not that our plans are bad but that God’s plans are better.

A prayer is circulating on the Internet that expresses it this way:

  • He asked for strength that he might achieve, he was made weak that he might endure;
  • He asked for health to do larger things, he was given infirmity that he might do better things;
  • He asked for power that he might impress men, he was given weakness that he might seek God;
  • He asked for wealth that he might be free from care, he was given poverty that he might be wiser than carefree.
  • He asked for all things that he might enjoy life, he was given life that he might enjoy all things;
  • He received nothing he asked for. He received more than he ever hoped for.

His prayer was answered!

Blessed man!

The shortest distance between a closed and open door is the distance between your knees and the floor. The one who kneels to the Lord can stand up to anything.

RESPONSE:

Today I will accept that my blocked door doesn’t mean God doesn’t love me. Quite the opposite. I’ll see it as proof that He does.

PRAYER:

Thank You Lord that You know best and have even better plans for me and my service for You. Help me wait patiently for You to open the right door at the right time!

 

So What If You Had The Guts To Let Go Of Fear?

Lessons Learned From a Career Crisis

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Although it was a dark rainy night in fall, in my mind everything was as clear as day.  That was back in 1994, a year into my first career in Montreal, Canada and I was having the most difficult, in fact the most traumatic experience of my life.  It was I who made the decision to change my life completely.  I migrated to a new country, started a new career and a new life, all on my own.  But on that dark night, the rubber hit the road and I had every good reason to be afraid.  However at the end of another dreadfully difficult day at the office, I was determined to stay the course.

I was struggling in a professional field that was not quite the right fit for me.  My colleagues were unhelpful in an unhappy work environment and it was affecting my performance.  I was in a foreign country with no close family, a very limited social circle and no professional network to help steer me towards other opportunities.  This had never happened to me in my life.  I always fit in, rose to every challenge and succeeded.  In spite of it all, deep down in my soul, I knew I had to keep going.  I wouldn’t “just quit.”

What was ironic was that I really was letting go.  I was letting go of the fear-driven “what ifs?” that had been scaring the living daylights out of me.  On that dark rainy night, I made the decision to change my inner dialogue by courageously answering my “what ifs?”  with “so whats!”

“What if this job doesn’t work out?” – “So what!  I will find a better job.”

“What if I can’t pay my bills?” – “So what! There’s my savings, unemployment insurance and… my parents.”

“What if people think I am a quitter?” – “So what! What people think about me won’t change the world.”

I was determined to allow the Universe to let this messy situation unfold and to make sense out of it.  I just knew that I would be okay.  Here’s what I learned –

  • We all know our truth. Being authentic can be difficult.

The fear and angst were rooted in my struggle to fit the bill of an educated, young, confident professional.  I was supposed to live up to everything I was taught – strive to achieve my goals, to never ever give up, be strong in the face of adversity.  The reality was that I wasn’t being authentic, even though I already knew my truth – I was not in the right professional field and my soul was dying.

Many people don’t live authentically.  We live in a world that describes what success ought to look like.  By staying in a job that was not right for me, I was keeping up professional appearances and what I thought were other people’s expectations.  It takes guts to step off the beaten path and take the road less traveled.  Not everyone will understand why, and they will tell you that you are making a mistake.  If you listen to your inner voice, you will find your truth – what’s right and meaningful for you.

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  • It’s not worth the effort to hang on because of the fear of losing what we think is valuable.

The job paid well and I could afford a very good material quality of life.  On the other hand, I was holding on to a job in which I wasn’t able to give of my best talents and gifts in a work environment that was wrong for me.  My soul was dying a slow, painful death.  If I quit, there was the real risk of financial hardship.

So it was decision time. I had to choose between fear and courage.  I chose courage.

It was the courage to see beyond the surface and to dig deeply within to find out I really wanted, what really mattered to me and what were the next steps I needed to take.  I knew that I had to leave that job and get on my own path.  And I did.  Once I had honestly confronted my fears I was ready to take a leap of faith. In the face of uncertainty and risk, I made some responsible decisions about how I was going to leave and move my career forward.  While introspection was the starting point in all of this, I actively sought help to support the process.  I was amazed at the number of people who were willing to offer good advice and who had “been there, done that” and could help me find the things I needed to get through this crisis.

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  •  Never let a crisis go to waste. There’s always something to learn.  Some good will emerge in the aftermath.

As it turned out, this personal and professional crisis not only taught me some important life lessons, but I gained some very useful work experience.  I eventually moved on to another company where I had a very satisfying and rewarding career in marketing.  I can safely say that much of what I learned in my previous job has given me the business acumen needed to make critical decisions, manage budgets effectively and lead with greater confidence.  All of this has taught me to never let a major crisis go to waste.

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Throughout my career, these three lessons have guided me to make decisions that are right for me.  It’s all about finding my life’s purpose and living authentically.  The organizations where I have worked, their clients and the community have all benefited because I am offering my best self, serving passionately and using my talents to the fullest.

I do believe that we’re all in constant evolution and that it is through life’s events – whether times of crisis or calm – that we somehow find direction for our life’s journey.  It takes courage to confront the fears that compromise our well-being and prevent us from living authentically.  It’s well worth it.

Part 2: Find your purpose: The limitless potential of the child of God

FINDING OUR PURPOSE

This is the second part of a series of blog posts on The Limitless Potential of the Child of God.  In Part 1, I established that we have the divine nature of God and that with the mind of Christ, we can understand what our God-given purpose is on earth.  In Part 2, I will share my thoughts on how to find our purpose.

You will realize that you are not limited in your potential when you find and pursue your God-given purpose on this earth.  Generally speaking, most people find their purpose when they come to an understanding of the events in the past and the present.  Can you see a common thread of God’s direction in your life?  Are there skills which seem to be more intuitive and natural to you?  Is there something that you really love doing?  How has God brought you to love what you do?  Your purpose is usually the thing(s) that you love doing.

With an attitude of self-acceptance, you won’t first consider what others think you should be doing, rather the priority will be to do precisely what feels right for you.  Even if the negative, doubtful reactions of people seem to make sense to you, if you’re seeking God’s perfect will, you will know what is true and right for you.  God in you will empower you to stand firmly in your awareness of your purpose.  You will know that you possess the inherent ability to do what you were put here to do as you will be convinced that there is no limit to your God-given potential.  You will make your dreams – that is, what you are sure of in faith – a reality.  You will think clearly and calmly and act creatively and effectively to make the transformation of that which you see through the eyes of faith come forth in reality.  You cannot do it without faith in God and in the confidence He places in you to do it!

LIMITLESS POTENTIAL

Take courage and liberate yourself from the limiting visions of this physical world.  Connect with the Source of all creation and all power through your  faith. See with the eyes of faith.  Use the mind of Christ within you to gain a deeper understanding of your purpose here on earth and fulfill it.  Paul implores us to “not be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and the perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

Begin rejecting any limiting thoughts that are undermining your faith or telling you that you cannot believe.  You will find that as you see yourself abiding in God, your self-esteem and confidence will never be shaken.  By God’s grace, you are who you are.  You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26).  You are therefore a clear manifestation of God’s perfect and infinite love.  You are empowered to act lovingly and in all goodness to achieve the unlimited potential which God has placed in you.  With your awareness of this truth, you cannot have a negative image of yourself.  You cannot feel disrespected, denigrated nor rejected by anything or anyone.

Armed with this awareness and conviction, success comes naturally and you live a victorious life in Christ knowing that the Kingdom of God is here on earth for you.

In Part 3, I will speak about overcoming obstacles to the fulfilment of your purpose.

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