Noticing the accumulation of leaves on my back deck, I decided to put the detachable blower on my shop vac to work. The job was done in no time as these symbols of fall softly settled onto the grass in the back yard. Motivated by my success, I decided to tackle the front porch which was peppered with tiny leaves dropped from four hanging ferns. The upheaval from this 265 mph narrow stream of air was quickly evidenced as my concrete became foliage-free. As I worked my way down the steps, a quick glance back at the porch revealed that the leaves were not the only thing displaced. Seat cushions, water jugs, and garden tools lay scattered like toys in a nursery. Even the welcome mat was not spared the turbulence!
After replacing the cushions (tying them this time) and uprighting the plastic jugs, I carefully centered the welcome mat in front of the door. As I gently slid this symbol of hospitality up against the door frame, a phrase from Scripture unexpectedly came to mind, "A great door for effective work has opened to me."
Setting aside my chores, I decided to look up that passage. A quick internet search yielded the result: I Corinthians 16:9. While ministering in the city of Ephesus, Paul the apostle observed, “There is a wide-open door for a great work here…” (NLT). Reading that verse, I was captivated by this thought. Paul recognized that the Holy Spirit had put out a 'welcome mat' for him: a divine invitation to cross the threshold to embark on a “great and growing work” (NCV).
In those quiet moments of reflection, a question bubbled to the surface. “Where has God placed a welcome mat before me?” As I gratefully reflected on the answer, the Holy Spirit gently nudged my complacency. “You’ve been lingering on the welcome mat.” His whisper continued, “My welcome mat is not the destination.” Recognizing my reticence, He reminded me that I am not to camp out basking in the fuzzy warmth of divine “permission granted.” Instead, I am to gratefully wipe my feet, cross the threshold, and enter in.
May I ask you that same question? What wide-open doors for effective service are before you? Perhaps it is time to stop wavering on the welcome mat. “Shake the dust off your feet” (Matthew 10:14) and invite God to remove any soil from the past that has become embedded in your soul (pun intended). Cross the threshold and enter through the open door in steps of joyful obedience to God’s call.
What is the next step for you today? For Paul, walking through the open door meant facing his adversaries and staying longer in Ephesus, rather than going to visit people he was longing to see. At other times in Paul’s journey, obedience meant leaving a place where he would rather have stayed.
In your faith journey, whether entering through the wide-open door for effective ministry means starting something new, or whether it means to remain in a current setting, receive encouragement from the Father through the prophet Isaiah. “I hear the Lord saying, ‘I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way, and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide. So don’t make it difficult, don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before. Don’t make me tug you and pull you along. Just come with me!’” (Psalm 32:8-9 The Passion Translation.) Go with God.
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