The Door to the Future

In 1969 an old sprawling mansion remodeled into several apartments served as my home for a year. My room was the former library with high ceilings, a bay window, and magnificent dark shiny wood shelves and moldings. The massive door was difficult to open and shut. When a visitor knocked, I couldn’t even hear a voice on the other side when I asked “Who’s there?” Opening that door threatened me, wary as I was of some of my neighbors.

The future, even a future only seconds away as a door opens, can concern us.

In African cities, guards watch day and night at the entry gates of fine homes surrounded by high walls. But in villages and small towns where my husband and I worked on Bible translation, people are more accessible. Most live and cook outside. Their homes serve more as safe places to store goods and sleep at night. Essentially, there are no doors to open or close. A clap of the hands and a respectful “Ko ko!” announce one’s entrance into the family courtyard.

Learning to live with my door open all the time deepened my trust in God. Future’s knock became less of a threat. Still, I was grateful for a screen door I could latch should a stranger give me reason for concern.

After a couple years of learning and analyzing the language, we began translating the New Testament in earnest. A gifted young man, M’betere, promised to be the answer to our prayers for a competent co-translator. It was not to be. He fell ill with lung cancer and within a year lay dying an excruciatingly painful death. On the way home from visiting him, I anguished over his life and early death. A serious Christian, his future in heaven was assured, but, oh, what a passage!

Comfort came when I thought of John 10:7 and 9:

Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheepfold... I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

In my mind, I saw Christ, not on one side or the other of the door to death, but as the door itself. He stood between the jambs, his arms outstretched in welcome and love. M’betere would not have to take one step into eternity, into the future, without the Lord. Instantly, peace filled my heart and I was able to leave him in the enfolding arms of the Shepherd.

Others, besides me, have locked doors, afraid to open them. John 20:19 tells us what happened after Christ’s crucifixion:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”For the risen Jesus, the past, the present and the future are one.

Outside of time, no doors, windows or walls can keep him from us. He himself is the door, not only to salvation, but to our future days on earth. Why should I fear tomorrow? I hear him say to me too, “Peace be with you! I am the door.”