Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 19: The Purpose Behind Closed Doors

"When God closes one door He opens another." For those of you new to faith in Christ or not well-versed in the Bible yet, don't rush to your Bibles to find these words. This saying is hardly a scripture verse, but I think it's kinda poetic. And it's often true. At least in my life. There have been several times in my life when I've been charging towards a doorway -- something that I just know God has for me -- and right when I hit the threshold -- BAM!!! The door shuts right in my face, just missing my nose.

This has happened in relationships, especially with the opposite sex during my dating years. It's happened with job opportunities. And it's happened while pursuing my purpose.

On May 29 in The Death and Rebirth of a Dream I shared at length about my recent experience at a writer's conference. I had attended the conference confident that I was the next breakout novelist. I was sure the editors and agents would be asking me to send them my full manuscript [book] when I got back home. I thought the conference would be a mere stepping stone to my first novel being published.


While I was very well received as a fellow Christian writer by the editors and agents I met, my novel was flat out rejected. I was anything but the next breakout novelist. No one wanted to see the full manuscript. Not one soul. As for the conference being a stepping stone to getting published? Let's just say that at the end of the conference, I was ready to use my manuscript -- all 100,000 words of it -- as a stepping stool.

So why did I travel all the way to the West Coast for a writer's conference? First of all, to meet with God. Getting away from my husband and children afforded me the opportunity for some quiet time. This quiet time wasn't figurative. It was actual quiet time, with no threat of children waking up and coming into my space asking for breakfast. It was amazing.

Secondly, it was to get reacquainted with myself. God showed me who Carla, the writer, really is. He showed me a writer, called by Him to write what He wants her to write. He showed me a writer that He'd called to write with no agenda. He showed me a writer that needed to trust Him for her future. If this writer publishes a book one day, she will do so in His power, for His glory and according to His will.

So I returned home from the conference very humble. And it was in this humility that He reminded me that the writings for which I've received the most positive feedback have been nonfiction. It's been my true stories, rather than my created ones that have been best received over the years. I had sat through several sessions of a fiction tract at the conference, feeling inspired and enlightened, but out of place. Now I know why.

I'd walked to the threshold of a published novel, and the door had shut right in my face. But He opened another door for me: a door that has lead to a purpose that is still unfolding before my eyes. Soon after I returned from California, I began submitting articles to several Christian and mainstream publications. I've submitted a few devotionals. I've been written things I never would have written if God hadn't closed the novel door.

The most amazing door that God has opened for me is an article I recently wrote for AARP. To give you a bit of background, I was in casual conversation with my mother, and she began telling me about a new friend of hers. Treopia Green Washington, a sister of one of the Little Rock Nine, is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, but now lives in Maryland. Treopia's mother, now deceased, had earned a master's degree from the University of Arkansas back in 1951. But because of segregation laws she, along with the other African American graduates, was not allowed to attend her own graduation.

Okay, so fast forward to May of this year. That month, Treopia attended University of Arkansas' commencement so she could accept her mother's diploma in a manner denied her mother sixty years ago. And God used me to tell her story. [click here to read article and watch video]

But enough about me. What doors has God closed in your life? Have you pursued one purpose to later discover that purpose was off-base? What we often see as failure is simply a rerouting of sorts. God is just getting our attention so we can get back on track with Him.

There's a young guy in the Bible who had a few doors closed in his face, yet he persevered. In Genesis 37-50, we find the story of Joseph, a boy with strange dreams. He dreams that one day his father and brothers would bow down to him. Furious about the report of these dreams and jealous of their father Jacob's favoritism of Joseph, his brothers plot to kill him. Instead, they choose to be merciful and sell him into slavery.

As an Egyptian slave, Joseph finds favor everywhere he serves. God's hand is still on him. He's elevated to overseer of the house of Potiphar, one of Pharoah's officers. Everything's going well until Potiphar's wife makes a pass at Joseph then accuses him of assaulting her. Joseph has done no wrong, yet goes to jail over her false accusations. The cell door slams right in his face.

While in jail, he rediscovers his gift of interpreting dreams. He interprets the dreams of two fellow inmates, and both dreams come true verbatim. Yet his gift is forgotten, and the cell door remains locked shut. Years later, however, Pharoah has a disturbing dream and the guy whose dream Joseph had interpreted finally remembers to mention Joseph's gift. Joseph interprets Pharoah's dream, a warning of impending famine in Egypt. Joseph's interpretation of God's message leads Pharoah to elevate Joseph to his second-hand man. Joseph's father and brothers, along with all of Egypt, eventually end up on their knees before him.

And what were Joseph's words to his brother when reunited with them?
"I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you." Genesis 45:4b-5
 "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:19-20
So, Joseph's dream wasn't so strange after all.

What strange dreams are you having today? Dedicate them to the Lord. Ask Him if those dreams line up with His. And when doors slam shut in your life, ask God to open the doors He planned for you before you were even born.

I'm committed to walk through only those doors He freely opens to me. Will you commit to the same?

Purposed For Him,



  1. Where is the "I love this more than chocolate" button??

  2. That's saying a lot Girlfriend, if you like chocolate half as much as I do! Thanks Chelle.

  3. Carla so far, this is my favorite post! Very authentic and transparent thanks for sharing. I know that God put the desire in your heart - and just like Joseph it may come to pass in a completely different way than you expect.

  4. Thanks Jennifer! You have no idea how encouraging that is.

  5. Well... good thing your novel didn't get published! I would have not read that or any other novel or book of any other kind, (wouldn't know about them), whereas God wanted you to use your writing to enlighten others via your blog, on a more personal level. Phew! Thank God for that! I have been learning so much from reading your stuff here!

  6. Great post... again! Thanks for the insight, Carla.

  7. Thanks Zarina! He did have a plan, huh? :-)

  8. P.S. Just read and watched the videoclip on the story you wrote for AARP about the Green family and U of A. WOW! Many of theose people who were segregationists still living today, amongst us here in the South, huh? Well, prayers out to them for the new generations to be more open and embracing. Gosh, it's not that long ago that all of that nasty stuff of racism was the norm. Was literally clueless about all of that until racism came my way. Well, may God continue to level out the field. --Great job writing that article, by the way :-).