One Sunday morning after worship, I held the door from the sanctuary to the lobby open for a friend. She hesitated before coming through the door and then explained that she waited to make sure no one was coming around the corner. Her comment made sense considering she uses a cane and therefore needs to be a bit cautious. I told her that I understood because we have a swinging door between our kitchen and dining room and that I almost got hit by the door the other day when one of the kids came through it as I was about to go through it on the opposite side at the same time. This has always been a potential problem in our home. “You could just take it off the hinges,” she said with a smile. I was surprised by those words because that had never occurred to me in almost fifteen years living in our house. While I don’t anticipate taking the door down, I was struck by the fact that I’d never even considered her suggested approach.
I was with my writing group this summer when one of my friends said that she thought I give up too easily. The minute the words came out of her mouth, I knew she was right. I take rejection hard. If an agent doesn’t like my manuscript and makes suggestions, I’ll try to make revisions. Then I’ll send the manuscript out again a few times, but if the rejections continue, I’ll usually put the piece in a drawer assuming that if a small number of agents don’t like it, then all will hate it. I don’t send it out over and over like some of the greatest writers in history. No, I give up and move on to another project. The door slams in my face, and I walk away. I don’t continue to knock on the door, and never once have I thought so far out of the proverbial box that I’ve figured out a way to take the door off the hinges to get through the publishing maze.
Sometimes in life it’s hard to know when to keep trying, to continue banging on the door of opportunity, or when it’s time to quit and move on to another season, project, or phase. For someone who craves certainty, deciding whether to grind it out or abandon the fight is much more abstract than I’d like.
Unfortunately, God doesn’t typically provide clear indications of when to start and stop. Even when we pray in earnest, God’s thoughts on the matter may not be obvious to us. Frustration and confusion may ensue when we don’t know whether to keep up the pursuit. Because we know how Biblical stories turn out, I tend to forget that there are numerous instances in the Bible in which God’s people experienced long waits, in which they probably wanted to give up. The Israelites spent forty years wandering until they got to the land promised them. David was on the run for his life even after he’d been chosen as the future king of Israel. Throughout their ordeals, though, God stayed with them. God never abandoned them.
And that is what I must remember: in a time of searching and waiting and deciding whether to stay the course or move onto something new, God is with me. God is with us. God doesn’t leave us or withdraw from us. We must continue to pray and pursue God and have faith that we will know when it is time to act or refrain or bust down the door. But in the meantime, we must rest in the comfort that God will be with us as we seek discernment. God is present in the process, today and always.