At a recent funeral I heard the ‘Parable of 10 Virgins’ from Matthew’s Gospel (25:10), “While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.” A scripture verse often used during funeral masses. I am always reminded of my Dad by this scripture, whose door was locked when he was just 57 years old. At the time of our death the door will be shut and locked on this life. What side of the door are will we be on?
I recently came across a documentary of the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107) disaster that occurred in 2003 when the shuttle disintegrated upon reentry. I have seen the news clips many times before. However, this time I noticed something different. The Mission Director, after several failed “com-checks” with Columbia, then gives the order: “shut the doors,” closing off Mission Control. No one in or out. That decision preserves the situation at the moment of the tragedy and focuses on the problem at hand, uncontaminated by new or outside influences.
It is the finality of a situation. That finality can be sudden. I was coaching in a High School Football state semi-final game where we down two points, made a goal-line stand to get the ball back with less than 2 minutes in the game. With no time outs, we were able to get in position to run onto the field for a last second game winning 38-yard field goal. It sailed inches wide left and that was it. The door for that season was shut and locked. We were not on the side we wanted.
As a coach I needed to advise high school athletes that their playing days offer a limited opportunity and then it slams shut. Although they can relive their memories, their playing career doesn’t have a replay button. They must live with the outcomes and memories. What most youth sports coaches, high school included, fail to realize is that these kids have such a short time frame and they should get a positive experience. Too many times I have seen a child crushed by an overbearing self-centered coach, unaware of what he is truly stealing from his or her players and slamming the door shut too soon.
However, as we learned in the “Sound of Music” when Mother Superior is guiding Maria and then Maria requotes her later in the movie when giving advice to Liesl, “Where the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” Maria got her happy ending after she looked to God to find her way.
I love being a Dad; have so since day 1 and through each of my daughters’ ages. What I have come to realize is that the door has closed and locked on certain elements of being a Dad. With adult daughters now, a new window has opened. My role has evolved and so has the impact I can impart. I can’t reopen those closed doors, but I can take advantage of new openings before they too close. There are also times when we consciously and intentionally shut and lock the door ourselves. I consider marriage to be that case and am blessed to be on the right side of the shut and locked door.
We need to write our own eulogy with how we live our life, one day at a time. We need to make time to take an inventory of the many doors in our lives and when were we are on the right side of the door as it was locked and when were we on the wrong side. I love the expression I heard on a podcast that our tombstone is our final tee shirt. Been there, done that, have the tee shirt. Most of us could come up with a tee shirt slogan for every door locked on us, good or bad.
At the end of the day, did we do what we could, when we had the chance? It doesn’t necessarily mean success, it does mean having no regrets. The choice is to act with foresight or live in regret with hindsight. Life is too short to have regrets. I strive to be the type of man that the devil says, “damn he is awake.” Martyred missionary Jim Elliot said, “When the time comes to die, make sure that all you have to do is to die.”
Johann Sebastian Bach finished each of his manuscripts with the words Soli Deo Gloria— “Glory to God alone.” In his words, “the aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” In his eyes, this inscription, was the finishing touch and locked the door on his manuscript.
Noah built the ark, but it was God who closed the door (Genesis 7:16). When every life meant to be saved was aboard the ark, God shut the door. This was not Noah’s decision. God shut the door; His time of judgment arrived. Only those who had gone through the doorway would be saved; no one else could enter.
In Revelations 3:7, John writes, “‘The holy one, the true, who holds the key of David, who opens and no one shall close, who closes and no one shall open.” This ties back to Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 22:22, “I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”
God shuts doors no one can open. Attempting to force open a door God has shut is futile. We waste time wishing a love one was still with us, a career opportunity came through, we hadn’t spoken the words we did. Time that could be spent looking for the new windows He opened. If God shuts a door, there is nothing we or anyone else can ever do that will open the door. So, look for the open windows. The window may be somewhere we had never looked before, it may need a change of heart or perception, it may require more effort, the fact that it exists is blessing enough.
Christ closed the door on death, He triumphed over it. He has allowed us to be on the right side of this door. When the sudden finality of our door is shut and locked, what side will we be on? What will our final tee shirt slogan be?