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.