"...for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries" (1 Corinthians 16:9).
Twenty-four years old, just married, graduated from college with a degree in theology, and ready to conquer the world for Jesus! Though it was years ago, I easily recall that period of my life. It was full of great expectations that were all fulfilled, but in ways that did not expect, nor in ways that I had always dreamed. I had been serving as a youth pastor at a small church plant in a community that was struggling, both economically and spiritually. I was a volunteer, single, and was putting my whole heart and soul in to what I was doing, who I was serving, and really love most every minute of it. In college, I had always dreamed of graduating and going to some large church that was full of people, grand salary packages, and benefits! Shortly before my wife and I were married, the Lord began to show some things that did not compute in the calculations that I had already decided. I felt as though God was leading us from where we were, but thought and was hoping that He was leading us to one of those places that fit what I desired, and quite frankly, thought I deserved. God saw it differently.
What God did do, was presented me with an open door. It led to another small church, a weekly stipend that wouldn't equate taking care of a new wife who was still a full time college student, and an hour-long one way commute that would cost tolls and over a hundred miles at a time. I was to begin a youth program and assist the pastor with other duties. A year into it, I tried to leave. I tried to find another open door, one that God, in His grace and wisdom, would not allow it to open. I stayed. There were challenges, struggles, and at times, the struggle was within me and my desire to be there. But THIS was the door that God had opened. I began to embrace it. I was able to see what GOD could when I fully walked through the door He had opened. Lives were changed. My life was changed. Though He would lead me through another open door a few years later, I am forever grateful for what God did in my life then and there.
Paul wrote to the church at Corinth challenging and encouraging them to persevere in the work that God had called them. He was living out the same call. He was open with them concerning the reality there will be challenges when we are living out the call of God. Not everyone will like it. Paul, however, did not look the other way when an opportunity presented itself, though it was clear that it would include great opposition. Instead, he stayed. He remained. He endured. He saw opposition as an opportunity. He refused to give up and quit.
There will be opportunities in your life that are disguised as oppositions. Don't be alarmed and don't be fooled. Within each of those oppositions is an open door where God will do amazing things beyond what you can possible imagine. It's so easy to label people and things as this or that and move on. With this attitude, we miss out on the discovering of what God may have wanted us to see and to learn. Take time today to seek God and ask Him what it is He wants you to do. And while you're at it, ask Him what He desires for you to learn. Ask Him to show you the open door. Don't judge it based on its looks. Judge it based on the One who is leading you to it, through it, and beyond it.