Last week early in the morning, following an overnight snowfall of 3 or 4 inches. I went out in the 14° temperature with the snow blower to remove the snow from our driveway (we have one of those drives that you can’t let the snow settle in if we hope to get out). When I finished moving the snow I stood at the garage door and pressed the entry code into the door opener. There was no response. We’ve been having problems with the door pad over the past couple of weeks. It has intermittently worked, but on this cold morning there was no response. I stood there and punched in the code numerous times hoping that it would eventually open, but it was to no avail. So I walked around to the back door and pushed the doorbell hoping that Sherry would hear me and come and let me end. But she didn’t hear the bell. I pushed the doorbell repeatedly for a couple of minutes. But there was no answer. For the next half hour. I went between the garage door, punching in the code repeatedly, and then returning to the back door and pushing the doorbell repeatedly. The garage door did not open and she did not hear the doorbell.
It was the walking back and forth between the garage door in the back door that helped to keep me warm, although my fingers were freezing. I estimate that I press the doorbell button about 100 times. I did give a passing thought to retrieving the key that we have hidden outside the house, but I quickly drew the conclusion that, that was an impossibility. The key was buried under a 4 foot frozen snowdrift and I had no access to a shovel anyway. The next option I gave thought to was walking up to the church without a sidewalk (buried in snow) and calling Sherry on the telephone, but I quickly dismissed that option. Eventually Sherry did hear the doorbell and she did go down to the garage and push the button from the inside that let me in.
I can tell you from that personal experience that It’s no fun to be locked-out in the snow!
Many of us have had experiences like that; being locked out of the house or being locked out of the car (which is far more common). Those experiences are met with an immediate empty feeling in your stomach, asking the question, what am I going to do now?
As I’ve reflected on my experience of last week I’ve given a lot thought to being locked out. I quickly reached the conclusion that it’s not fun to be locked out, period! It’s not fun to be locked out of houses; of cars; of families, or churches ‘circles’, or groups we would like to be part of; or ministries we would like to be involved in; or friendships we would like to have.
It is one of my desires pastorally that no one ever be locked out; that the doors of our hearts never be closed to others.
In the month of March there will be several opportunities for us to walk through open doors and enjoy the fellowship of other believers.
It’s still not too late for you to join with us in the final session of our Evangelism Training Seminar being taught by Jim Eubanks, a friend and former assistant pastor here in West church many years ago. Jim is now a retired minister who still has an ongoing ministry of personal evangelism. In session one, we not only learned a lot, but we also had a lot of fun doing so. Why are we doing this, you may ask? The answer is quite simple. We don’t want the door of heaven to be close to anyone because they did not come to know Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord.
There is a brand-new ministry, beginning on March 14 here at the church for Adult Singles. There is a significant need for this ministry in the church. For too long these folk have been sort of left out. And it never feels good to be left out. For all of you single adults out there 30+ years old. This is an open invitation for you to walk through this newly opening door into the fellowship of other Christians who want to be encouraged in their spiritual growth and nourishment.
On March 21st the door opens again for another Fun Fellowship night as we come together for our annual West Church Talent Night. On these nights there is always an enjoyment of the talents God has given to many of our people, as well as a lot of laughs from some of our resident comedians. All of you are invited to walk through this open door of fellowship and discover that Christians can have a lot of fun.
Our Home Fellowship Groups are sponsoring an all church and all your friends event on March 27TH in Lyons Hall. On that night our doors will be open to share the film story of Louis Zamperini. Captured By Grace tells the story of his life after returning home as a WWII hero. Through the power of the Gospel—and his experience at the 1949 Billy Graham Crusade in Los Angeles — Zamperini overcame alcoholism, night terrors and a failing marriage to live a full and joyous Christ-centered life until his passing at age 97, on July 2, 2014, inspiring millions of people along the way.” This BG movie may well be the Knock On The Door of someone’s heart you know who has not yet opened Their Heart’s Door to Jesus. Invite them to Come On In.
The last Sunday in March, we will celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem, beginning our Holy Week observances. On that Palm Sunday, the doors of Jerusalem were opened wide to Jesus as he rode in humbly on the back of a donkey. But it wasn’t long before those gates were closed to him. The temple was shut off to him. The religious leaders rejected him. Crowds of people shouted together, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.” No, it’s not fun to be shut out. It’s not fun to be locked out. It’s not fun to have the door closed, in-your-face. It’s not right to say ‘No’ to God’s precious son, the only hope of our salvation. It’s just not right to close the doors of our heart to Him. In fact, it is eternally wrong to close the door of your heart to Jesus.
The doors of our church will be opened to each of you during the month of March and far, far beyond. But more important than the doors of our church, the doors of our heart are open to you. And they are opened to you because Jesus has opened the doors of many of our hearts to Him. We want you all to know the joy; the eternal joy of not being locked out of fellowship with Him; of not being locked out of heaven, because you did not open your heart to Him.
The door of His heart opened to you is far more important than anything we as a church can offer, but we can promise you opportunities to hear the invitation of Jesus extended to the whole world, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20)
My garage door shut me out on a cold snowy morning and the longer it took me to get the door open the colder I got. That’s just the way it is! But eventually my wife heard the doorbell ringing and came to my rescue.
Locked out in the cold with only a wooden door separating me from the warmth within. Locked out from the warmth of God’s fellowship and love; separated only by a heart that resist surrendering to Him.
As I have reflected on my locked-out experience, I’ve wondered what Sherry would have said to me when she opened the door and saw how cold I was, and I said to her, ‘No Thanks’, I think I’ll just stay out here and slowly freeze to death. Knowing Sherry she would have probably pleaded with me to come in where it was warm, and as I further resisted her pleas to come in the house, she may well have said in frustration, “you’ve lost your mind”, I’m going to call 911 for help.
I wonder. I just wonder what Jesus is going to say to those who have persistently rejected His invitation to come into the door He opened for them into heaven through His death and resurrection? I actually know from scripture what He is going to say, and it’s not at all pleasant to hear. “Thou fool! Depart from Me”.
While The Door is Open, I plead with you to Come In! By the grace and mercy of God, Come In!
Pastor Ralph Wetherington