I've never been the type of person who just sits back and prays for things to happen. Maybe this is a weakness in my spiritual life, and I should be more trusting that God can work miracles and let Him do His job. But I just can’t seem to let that happen, I always have to try and do my part. I will always believe that God helps those who help themselves, so instead of praying for God to solve the problem, I pray for Him to open a door to help me solve the problem.
My Mom had a homemade ice cream shop on Cape Cod for twenty years, and that shop was an answer to her prayers for how to help out our family financially while my Dad’s building business was being hit by the depression in the eighties. She had never made ice cream before, never run a business, never taken classes on management and the like. She was a nurse that stayed at home while her kids were young, and when my Dad was struggling to make ends meet, God gave her the opportunity to open up a shop in our quaint little Cape Cod village.
She took that open door, heavy though it was, hung a sign that read “God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called” and started a successful little business that provided for her family’s needs. She worked so very hard to be able to give her kids good educations, and from that family business, so many more doors were opened to us kids. Because you know what a family business makes? Good hard workers.
I was only six when the ice cream shop opened, and I worked filling spoons, washing buckets, wiping tables, whatever I could do until I was able to serve customers at the ripe old age of 12, and became the manager at 16. My five siblings did the same, we all worked long hours and learned valuable lessons in customer service, finances, and business management. Then we all went on to higher education because we knew how to study hard, work for what we wanted, and achieve the jobs we desired. In the end, my parents ended up with an engineer/lawyer, two doctors, a computer/tech specialist, an accountant, and a nurse. Not too shabby for a family of six kids who grew up scooping ice cream and making waffle cones, with an immigrant Dad and a stay at home Mom.
I’m not saying all of that to brag, but to illustrate the point that working hard and getting the grace to see an open door when it presents itself is key in getting answers to prayers. Could God have just let some rich distant relative leave us an inheritance and not made my mom open that shop? Of course! Nothing is impossible with God! But that would have been a screen door answer to her prayers, doors that just fly open to give what you need without doing much on your part. Sometimes God gives us these easy answers, these screen doors, and what a gift they are.
But sometimes the answer to our prayers is a little more challenging, like walking through a sliding door, which requires just a little effort on our part before we can see the puzzle pieces sliding together.
And sometimes there’s more to be learned or experienced than just an easy answer to a prayer. Sometimes God’s doors are very big, heavy, doors. Doors that we don’t want to go through at all, but feel we must. Doors that are so hard to open that we wonder if we are doing the right thing at all.
Most times they are more like a maze of many, many doors, and we can’t see the answer until it’s all over and we can look back with clarity that God did indeed lead us down that twisted path for a reason.
And, of course, there’s the saying that God does not close a door without opening a window. That’s called hope. We may not understand why He’s acting as bodyguard to the door we want to enter, but we have hope and faith to believe that He will give us what we need when we need it.