We talk a lot about the joy of open doors, fresh opportunities and a sense of a new direction but we don’t always mention the joy that comes from closed doors. In the last month two doors have closed for me, one unexpectedly, the other was not surprising in the slightest. As with all beginnings and endings, there are mixed emotions and more questions than answers. Confusion is normal in these circumstances but once we have come to terms with the decision, it can be a great release to have one less option to think about.
Although these closed doors have different outcomes for me, they have both given me a sense of relief and a “what now?” question with them. We live in a society that actively promotes open doors and Christianity also shares this positive outlook for opportunity. However, the Bible is also clear that closed doors are a positive movement in our lives. The provision of the brook and ravens dried up for Elijah, so he moved on to the next calling which was helping the widow at Zarephath. Elijah was taken into heaven which released Elisha into a ministry that was far more powerful than his mentor’s ministry. Paul was shipwrecked and landed up preaching in places that he never would have travelled to otherwise. Ruth was widowed at young age but landed up remarrying and running a successful business.
So what can we learn from a closed door? Although it may be disappointing, it’s not always denial. God is simply removing the choices that aren’t profitable or helpful for where you are going next. He refines our vision by narrowing down the choices. I always think that it is quite exciting when a door closes as it means the Lord is preparing the way to a greater door, the door of opportunity. He is refocusing our attention on what he wants to do next, this could be something we have been praying about for a long time or a surprise from the Lord.
The hardest part of this journey is the corridor of “in-between”. Sometimes we can stand in the corridor waiting for a long time before another door opens. We are happy to receive an open door, but the waiting period between a closed door and the next one opening, is where our faith is tested. The “in-between” is the place where we most feel like we want to give up; the pressure of believing for more can push our faith to the limits. This is an important part of the process, the growth and depth our of faith is more valuable to the Lord than reaching our destination. If we are to go through the open door, we must have the strength, wisdom and character to steward what is on the other side of it. These qualities develop best in unsettled times as the uncertainly helps us to cling to the Lord and develop the deep roots needed to support the growth. The waiting time is not wasted or fruitless, but an adventure in developing ourselves and our relationship with God.
So when encountering closed doors, it helps to remember that they are closed to protect us from bad decisions, wasting time and paths that weren’t meant for us. They also indicate that there is something much greater and more exciting waiting for us, and that the preparation time is essential. If we wait patiently, a new door will open and our greatest moments will arrive.
If you have enjoyed this blog, join the mailing list here
One area of life that artists are good at tracking is the change of seasons, not just in the natural world around us but in our life seasons as well. In the UK we are heading into springtime but there’s also something in the air of new spiritual season emerging. There’s excitement in the air!
I have been in a wilderness period for a long time; this season of my life has been about pruning and getting rid of things that I no longer need. A time of evaluation, contemplation and preparation in readiness for new life and waiting for opportunities and breakthroughs to come forth. Over the last few months, there have been signs in my life of a new season blowing in; little changes that seem fresh and unfamiliar. Often we feel the advent of a new season before it begins, and I certainly felt this change coming about 18 months ago. Recently, I have been offered some interesting opportunities from my music work; some things that I have waited for a long time to be asked to do. They are only small opportunities, but I realised the other day, that a prophetic word that I was given 5 years ago was beginning to show signs of fruition through these requests.
When we enter a new season, the old way of doing things no longer works. We have to move on and try new ways of doing things. The pandemic opened up a world of online concerts, church services and meetings in a way that we hadn’t experienced before. This for me was the turning point as I have been able to meet new people via Zoom without having to travel. It presented a new way of doing something I was well used to, but I had to change the way I worked to make it happen. It has broadened my audience and made meeting new audiences much easier for me.
These new music opportunities have made me excited about my work for the first time in a very long time! And I’m holding on to the things that God promised me many years ago and that he will complete the work that he started in me. Whenever new growth appears, we need to remember not to take our old wilderness mindset into the new season. For me, that means holding on to the fact that things are changing for the better and that there are great things around the corner! So rejoice with me, my season is changing! There is a season for everything, and this is a season to grow and flourish.
Do you remember when Mike and the Mechanics sang Over My Shoulder? I used to sing along to that song in bedroom, standing on my bed, yelling into a hairbrush. I was eighteen at the time. Twenty one years on, nothing has changed, except now I repeat the same performance with my eight year daughter. One the sad things about the song is that it is full of regret and hankering after the past. I was driving to work the other day when this song came on the radio and it got me thinking the consequences of looking back when we should be concentrating on the future. At the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife looked back and she turned into a pillar of salt. She was told not to, but a fleeting moment of curiosity ended her life. I don’t do regret, it’s a lens that distorts the reality of the future. It leads to nothing and makes us focus on our failures.
If we constantly have our eyes on the rear view mirror, we repeat the cycle of who we were and not what we could become. Time allows to move forward but never back. We are given a gift of moving forward and it’s up to us to choose how we react. We can meet the future with hope and expectation or with fear and sadness. Even when we pass through seasons that are not what we want, every day moves us closer to something much better… even when we don’t feel that way. When Alanis Morissette sang “the only way out is through”, she hit the nail on the head. Sometimes we have to grit our teeth and believe that there are better things on the other side of the season.
A few months ago I hit a wall with the whole music thing. Everything I had built up came crashing down and try as I might I could not rebuild it. Truth be told, I was too knackered and broken to fix it. Years of being a freelancer, performer, teacher, composer and everything else had worn me down. I kept looking in the rear view mirror and what I had lost and wondering whether there was any point continuing in music. But the law of life is that as something dies, something else is born and new shoots begin to sprout. Things are already moving on and I’m getting back some of the music opportunities that I lost a long time ago. I have opportunity to reinvent my music and in turn myself. Life constantly evolves and we should take every opportunity to grow and develop.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s don’t look back over your shoulder, face the future and reinvent yourself. Reinvent yourself…
I had a conversation with one of my singing students recently about the balance between work and play. She’d pushed herself to take every opportunity that comes her way even if she doesn’t want to do it. The whole experience had left her drained with nothing left to give and no joy left in her work. She wanted to know what to do next… She was quite surprised when I replied “do nothing, sit on your arse for a while and enjoy it!”
We have an obsession in our culture that we must be doing something all the time. We must be seen to be busy and proactive because apparently it looks good. But does constant “busyness” produce good quality fruit? As a performer, I’ve always found that there is a fine line between not enough and too much performing. There comes a point where you can fall out of love with your work and become tired of the material you sing. The joy of performing disappears and you start to wonder why you are carrying on…
Not every opportunity that is offered to us is beneficial. We need to learn that and exercise our right to say “no”. Saying no won’t make us look bad, but shows that we are in control and can exercise restraint. I’ve worked with some acts that say yes to everything and then end up letting people down. They get known as unreliable or disorganised: labels that can stick and ruin a career. The worst that can happen is that you give a bad performance because you’re so tired that you can’t perform well. Often these performances don’t help our self-esteem as we don’t feel that we’ve given our best and they leave us feeling doubtful of our abilities. Driving yourself to the point of illness won’t help in the long run, it’s not honourable to yourself, others or to God.
Sitting on your arse for a while helps you to stop and listen to how you are feeling. It can help you sort your thoughts out and see the situation clearly. The opportunity for silence has often helped me to reconnect with my creative side and ponder on the things I’d like to write about. Creativity often comes when you sit back and let it happen on its own. Also, if you get known as someone who will always do something, you only make a rod for your own back. Are you denying someone else the chance to have a go and see what skills they have? Doing nothing also gives you the chance to relax and do something that doesn’t involve work. The most interesting people aren’t those who work all the time, but those who have a life outside work because they have other experiences and interests. These outside interests can provide new routes and material for creativity.
So next time you open your mouth to say “yes” to something, stop and think! There’s a rather telling Celtic saying “do few things and do them well” A good lesson to learn…?