But when we know God, we learn to walk through open doors and stop banging our fists on closed ones.
''When God closes a door, he opens a window," at least that's how the saying goes. But lately, I think what God opens, when he is the one who is opening it, is more like a ten-lane highway. You don't have to squeeze through God's will; you can drive a truck through it.
That's what the Israelites experienced when God opened up a path for them through the sea. The Scriptures describe it boldly: "The water was like a wall to their right and to their left." God's people walked to complete freedom on dry land. Pharaoh's chariots and charioteers, however, drowned in those same waters.
If the events of Easter and the Acts of the Apostles show us anything, it is that God is all about opening up new and unexpected pathways. The death of Jesus becomes the way to eternal life. The Upper Room, where frightened followers hid, becomes the birthplace of the Church and the point of departure for her mission to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The road to Damascus becomes a life-changing encounter with the Risen Christ.
It's common these days for committed Christians to ask what God wants them to do. That's a beautiful act of faith and obedience. But it seems to me there are more than a few disciples who keep asking again and again, and then do nothing. That's paralysis rooted in fear. Refusing to move without complete certainty isn't following Jesus. It's a failure to trust God. Remember: we aren't called only to stand in faith, but to walk by it.
So how do you know where God is leading you, or what he is asking of you, or what he intends for you? Mostly, we don't. But when we know God, we learn to walk through open doors and stop banging our fists on closed ones. When we know God, we stop trying to make ourselves fit into something that wasn't made for us. We stop walking down someone else's path. We learn to trust that God will guide us, regardless of our sins, and faults, and failures. And we begin to realize that our life's circumstances are more like a wall to our right and to our left than they are a wall in front of us. We begin to understand that, somehow, we are walking through it all on dry land.
The importance of the Lord's Ascension is often overlooked. On that fortieth day after Easter, Jesus revealed to his disciples the truth about where he was leading them. He showed them that every step they took with him would bring them one step closer to heaven. He confirmed the words he spoke to them at the Last Supper: "I go to prepare a place for you."
Our response to what following Jesus requires of us is often the same as Thomas', "How can we follow you if we don't know the way?" But what Jesus told him two thousand years ago still holds for us. He is the way, the truth, and the life and we cannot assume we will arrive at our destination by setting our own course. We must follow him.
God will lead each and all of us. He does that through the grace of doors slammed in our faces and things we can't squeeze through or fit into. He does it, too, in new ventures and opportunities and unexpected plot twists. It shouldn't surprise us that the more open we are to him, the more open doors we will find.
I heard a lot of very good praise and worship music growing up in an evangelical church. One of my favorite songs was, "Where He Leads Me." The words are very simple, but deeply meaningful. "Where he leads me, I will follow. Where he leads me, I will follow. Where he leads me, I will follow. I'll go with him, with him, all the way." May we all learn to follow Jesus, and drive the trucks of our lives on the highways he opens up in front of us. And may every soul that belongs to Christ follow him all the way to heaven.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and serves as a senior editor at Ave Maria Press. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.