Finding God Through the Elevator Doors

elevator interior - photo by Derrick Treadwell on Unsplash

I found God in, of all things, a couple of elevators.

The smell in the parking lot downtown assaulted my nostrils, and when the elevator doors opened, a puddle blocked my way. I feared what it might be. As I gingerly stepped over it and selected the top floor, I realized it was coffee. Not as unpleasant as it could have been but still unwelcome.

In that moment, I flashed to my spiritual journey. When God calls me upward and forward, I will encounter some unpleasantness, but I can step over it, pass by it, and not get stuck in it.

Then there was the day this week when I started walking into an elevator as the doors were opening only to collide with someone getting out. I was intent on the doctor’s appointment awaiting me on the top floor. Wrapped up in my self-centered agenda, I had assumed the elevator existed to serve only me. I forgot the rest of the world was out there.

“Darling,” I could almost hear Jesus say. “Pay attention. I am in all things.”

Even in an elevator? Yup. God was hinting to me. Paying attention is not so easy when I’m waiting at a closed door, whether the elevator’s or a metaphorical door to a new step in life. I think about the times God has allowed me to wait and watch while I assumed my prayer would be answered immediately with some new door opening. Nope. I had to wait.

Another time I waited in a hotel lobby, surrounded by a bank of elevators. I saw so many options, and none of them opened for me. The six lighted floor indicators either were stationary or descending at a snail’s pace. Perhaps I could have used that moment to thank God I was on holiday.

Oh Jesus, you invite me upward, and my journey to you involves some waiting. I think I know the door you are inviting me to go through, but then there’s a snag. It doesn’t open in front of me. They hire someone else. The retreat is full already. I have to jump through 10 hoops to volunteer. Or the doors don’t open to something bigger. I’m waiting, but no sign appears to direct my vocation or major decision. Haven’t I waited long enough?

I can’t remember what wise person taught me the opening door prayer, but I’m glad I learned it. It has helped me many times:

Jesus, open the door you want me to walk through,
and keep shut the doors that won’t lead me to you.

And then at the hotel, surprisingly, I heard a ding behind me. That elevator was on the 30th floor a second ago, or so I thought. A door opened I didn’t expect.

Of course, when it comes to elevators, they usually visit all the same floors, and any door will get me there. Our Abba has a similar policy. If I force a door open and go in, God can work with my free (and perhaps dumb) choice to get me to the top floor (heaven) anyway. All doors lead to Jesus if we keep our eyes open.

Photo by Derrick Treadwell on Unsplash.

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Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.

8 COMMENTS

  1. And then…one can take the stairs (metaphorically speaking). But the door to the stairs is usually not easy to find!
    and when my destination is fifteen or thirty floors up…well, there comes a time when I bow to my own limits. Waiting for the elevator door to open on its own time is preferable to forging a way up the stairs, sometimes. Each option requires a different set of skills. And time of life! Sometimes one bounds upwards towards God…and sometimes one waits patiently for the door to open that will carry us on.

    • Beautiful reflection! Thank you, Jeff, for giving me another way to see this. There have been times in my life when I went searching for doors and pushed them open on my own, and found myself exhausted by the climb of many stories. And when I was ready to turn it over to God, I discovered a door ahead of me that lead me to the elevator.

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