I have never considered myself a “maths and sciences” person.
In the eighth grade. Mr. Turner returned my carefully-drawn pie graphs to me and asked me to redraw them in order to represent data more accurately. I once grew so frustrated by the oblique mysteries of geometry and pre-calculus in high school that I threw a pencil across the room. And over the years I learned and then immediately forgot more formulas and facts than I can count. Somehow, the act of staring at a textbook and trying to memorize the elements in the periodic table, or coloring a diagram meant to illustrate the process of photosynthesis, never connected with me in the way that writing and stories did. Even when I excelled in the classes, I never felt I’d learned anything.
Over the years, on my own terms, that has changed.
In graduate school, I started reading medical books from the 1800s that helped me make sense of the literature I studied. Curious about neuroscience and the nature of the mind, I read a popular science book: Michio Kaku’s The Future of the Mind. On a whim I once researched how scientists measured tsunamis, and thanks to a colleague where I work I earned a working understanding of group and number theory.
It’s fascinating to me: I’m learning things that high school me never would have dreamed of, mostly because I’m in a different point in my life with a different perspective. I can pursue math and science subjects that interest me. I can research whatever I want. I can find out the answers to my questions and, in some cases, actually put the knowledge to work. And this process has taught me a fundamental truth:
Just because a door is closed once doesn’t mean it is closed always.
And how true this is for the Christian walk! So many times as believers we see an opportunity fade, or God tells us “no,” and we immediately about-face and start walking in the opposite direction. Because we don’t “get” something or it seems impossible right then, we assume it isn’t meant for us or a part of what we’re supposed to do. But that isn’t always the case.
In Acts 16, Paul and Barnabas are “kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the Word in the province of Asia” (16:6). But Acts 19:22 tells us that Paul eventually made it there: he sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia while he “stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.” A door that was once closed opened; the moment came in God’s time, not Paul’s.
Similarly, in church yesterday the pastor pointed out that the man Jesus healed in Bethesda had waited thirty-eight years to be healed (John 5). For the majority of his thirty-eight years he’d attempted healing in the pool only to arrive in second place; in the thirty-eighth year, Jesus Christ healed the man. That’s a long time to knock at the closed door of healing, and yet God eventually opened it.
There are some doors that seem closed to us right now. Maybe those doors are people who have shut you out. Maybe it’s an opportunity you’ve never been able to grasp or an ability you don’t think you have. Maybe it’s a dream that seems dead. But please understand that no door is closed so tightly that God cannot open it. “See,” Jesus points out in Revelation 3:8, “I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” God can close and open doors at His will; no door is shut so tightly that it is beyond His command. And once He has opened it, no one can shut it again.
If you are being confronted right now by a closed door, then accept that closing for now. But please also don’t write off that door or the room inside it forever. Make a point in your life every now and again of returning to those closed doors. Sometimes when we return to them with a different perspective and a different understanding, or even when the timing is right, we’ll find that God has opened them.
Don’t miss the chance to see what’s on the other side.