We have a five-year-old named Esther who deeply values a good snuggle. Most of the time, we are all willing to give them to her freely as she’s pretty easy to fall in love with. Essie has Down Syndrome and her world is quite simple. She usually gets her mind fixed on something and continues to pursue it until either a) she achieves her goal or b) something or someone finally stops her advances. In regards to the snuggle, she is quite relentless at night. As it turns out, Essie also has a bit of sleep apnea which makes her wake pretty easily. That combined with a bit of sleepwalking makes for a perfect storm at night. She attempts to sleep with us (whether knowingly or unconsciously) at least 4 times a night. Often, too tired to take her back that last time, we finally let her stay in bed to snuggle as she lovingly tucks her feet near our ears, eyes, and stomach for a good kick. One night before bed, when we were particularly exhausted and in need of a full night’s rest, we decided to lock our door. Our bedroom has two doors- one to the hallway, and one that leads out to our back porch. Around 2am that evening I was startled awake by a knock at the door. I expected this, but it was not in the right place. All of my senses were heightened and I hit Taylor to wake him. “Someone or something is at our back-door Taylor!” he went to peek outside and to our horror, our five-year-old was sitting in the dark, in the middle of the night outside our back door. She was sleepwalking. We, of course, let her in immediately. Here’s what I found so amazing about the entire episode: even exhausted and half a sleep her persistence to be with us found another door to knock on.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” -Matthew 7:7-8
She kept asking, kept seeking, kept knocking. Many translations of this verse leave out the “Keep on” part of the verb tense used, making us think that the ask is a one-time thing. We are all well aware that many, and perhaps most, times we ask for things, we don’t receive them the first time. Whether it’s ketchup from the waitress or a raise from a boss, persistence is usually a key part of the ask. Children are brilliant in this. A good salesman knows the art of this. We can even think of persistence as a bit annoying, and maybe even a bit pushy. So, when it comes to asking God, I think we are hesitant to “keep asking”- especially if we have come to locked door. Persistence is important, even vital at times to asking and receiving. But instead of thinking of it like annoying God until we wear Him down, (I don’t believe this is what happens- we just tend to view earthly interactions the same as those with the Creator) I think there’s another perspective we are missing. When my daughter found the door locked, she persisted to knock on it a few times. But when it didn’t open to her, she walked through the house, unlocked her own door in the kitchen, and knocked on another door to get in. Why? Because she wanted to be with us. Her desire was not to open that specific door to our room, her desire was to find a way to snuggle next to Taylor and I. If we had been sitting on the couch, she would have wanted to be there instead. It was less about getting in a certain way, and more about the longing of her heart to be as close as possible to her papa and mama. Seeing some connections here? Let me share the story that pulled this together for me.
Mary was pregnant. Yes- Mary the mother of Jesus, that one. She was extremely pregnant. There was no doubt that she was getting ready to birth a baby and she needed a place to settle in when it happened. She and Joseph came into town exhausted, but extremely aware of their present need. It was more than just desire- it was just fact: a baby was comin. So, they went to the first hotel they saw. Joseph knocked: “Can we come in and stay here?” The manager replied, “nope sorry, not here.” Joseph, knowing he couldn’t stop, went to the next spot and asked again. Knock-knock. Again, his answer was no. This was not the place for the baby to be born. We don’t really know how many times Joseph went knocking, but we know the first place he tried wasn’t the open door and so he didn’t stop looking. He didn’t turn around to Mary and say, “well honey, it seems the inn is full so I guess you can’t birth Jesus tonight.” He also didn’t beat down the hotel lobby doors and demand the manager let them in. He trusted that God had a spot for them, and if the door didn’t open at first, there was one that would. But even this is not the treasure God showed me when reading. Here’s the gem: Joseph was asking the right question. As we aren’t privy to the exact question he asked, we have to see it through our comprehension of the storyline.
Joseph’s goal was not to get Mary into a certain inn to have the baby; Joseph was asking God, “is this the place and way you want to enter the world?”
His persistence was based on His confidence in what God had showed him: God told Mary and Joseph that they would birth Jesus and He would dwell with them. That’s what they knew. Jesus needed a spot to be born. The government determined what town that would be in (prophesied in Scripture earlier). Do you see now? Do you hear?
Many times, we beat on the same door, begging God to open them when our open door is 10 yards away; it just looks different than we thought. We can try and force God to fit His plans and promises through the thresholds of our comfort rather than learning to ask Him the right questions. Rather than asking God, “can you please open the door to this inn for me?" Try asking, “God, you are birthing something in me, where would you like it to be born? Which door would you like to open- I’ll go there?” He loves a persistent heart- it doesn’t mean we stop asking, even stop knocking on the same door sometimes. But when it has obviously closed or become locked, we have to stop and reflect, and ask God- “Am I asking you the right questions?” I want to remind you of Essie and the reasons for her knocking. Her need was to be near us- to be held.
What doors are you knocking on? Why do you want in? Is your Father there? Trust me, if your Papa is in another room, you don’t want that door to open anyways. I want to leave you with this verse about the most important knock of all.
Jesus said, “Behold. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice, I will open the door and I will come in.”
When we learn to listen for His voice, for His knock, He says He will be present and with us. He asks too. He knocks on our heart, longing to be near us as well. How tender is that? When our doors remain open to His voice, we have full access to what He wants to say to us. I promise He has something for you. If the only open door you see is the wide-open door to His heart, it’s enough. Walk through that one. You can ask Him which doors to knock on together.
So let's hear- what doors are you knocking on? What are you really asking for?