on being a “doorkeeper” …

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” –Psalm 84:10

There was a defining moment in my ministry life several years ago. It happened unexpectedly but not by accident. I often find this to be the case with the Father’s holy whispers regarding my life. They arrive when I don’t expect them but are so specific in their delivery that they are easily defined as authentic, as divine rather than random.

Our spring, ladies’ Bible study was coming to a close. During the final Tuesday night session we explored the concept of “calling”—the ministry that God has assigned to all believers to serve as his conduits of kingdom grace. We discussed the above scripture from Psalm 84 and what it meant to be a doorkeeper in the house of God. In the course of our conversation, a cell phone rang. The embarrassed participant fumbled around in her belongings in an effort to silence the distraction. The curious look she had on her face led my curious heart to make an inquiry: “Everything OK?”

“Elaine, you’re not going to believe the picture my sister-in-law just sent to me on my phone. Take a look.”

I did and went slack-jawed at the revelation. It was a picture of a beautiful wreath hanging . . . on a door. No sooner had the words passed from my lips about being a “doorkeeper” in the house of God than God sent his holy confirmation via a picture of a door on a cell phone. Unexpected? Yes. Accidental? I don’t think so. You might think so, but I’ve lived long enough with God to know when he’s trying to solidify a point. It doesn’t always happen this way; sometimes his directives are less obvious. But when his knock is blatant, I’ve learned to open up the door to entreat his instructions.

And so, that night I bowed my head and heart to this anointing, believing that God was calling me to the simple, yet profound task of being a doorkeeper to his extraordinary kingdom. To be a servant who stands at the threshold of God’s temple, guarding the sacred trust within and graciously opening up the door so that others might enter into their Father’s house, so that they might finally know what it is to come home and to be welcomed and warmed by the truth of his love. At that time, I didn’t fully understand what this sacred affirmation would look like for me in the coming months. Years later, I still don’t fully grasp the breadth and depth of what this means for me. But this I do know: the memory of that defining moment is still defining me. It stalks me, calls me, reminds me, and strengthens me. It minimizes my fear about my calling by keeping it fairly simple, despite my attempts at making it so very complex.

Calling. I think we’ve done a disservice within the Christian community in our conversations along these lines. We’ve made it too hard, wrapped too many formulas around the notion of “calling”, trying to fine-tune our areas of ministry to the exclusion of ministering in the moment-at-hand. Certainly, God has instilled in each one of his children different giftings that lend themselves to a particular area of ministry. We should walk in those giftings, develop them and offer them to others in service to our King. But our calling should not be limited by our giftings; instead, our calling should extend through them. Our calling stands before and behind, above and below any outpouring of excellence. Our calling is greater than our giftedness. Our calling is simple: to know God and then, out of that knowing, to lead others to know the same.

“‘Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.’” –John 17:3

 “‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” –Matthew 28:18-20

In establishing the vision for our ministries, these two criteria serve as the foundation for God’s vision therein. Know him and then, from that knowing, lead others to know him more fully. For me, that looks a whole lot like being a doorkeeper. Accordingly, I tend to the sacred trust I’ve been given, carefully guard the good deposit within me, and then, as the Lord prompts, I open up the doors to that kingdom storehouse and invite others in to feast on his treasures.

Every now and again, there comes a defining moment for all of us as it pertains to our ministries going forward. God’s word to you might be very specific. He may firmly grip your heart with an affirmation about what job you should take, where you should live, how you should serve. If that’s your case, then walk on in confidence. Do not hesitate to take hold of God’s holy confirmation.

But if that’s not you, if there is no grand moment of clarification, don’t get too hung up on the particulars. Instead, lend your heart to the moment-at-hand. Serve the kingdom right where you are. Stand at the gate of your temple; guard closely the doors of your heart, and tend fervently to the wealth within. Live there, in God’s house, and you’ll better understand this notion of calling. In tending to our temples, we tend to the Father’s business. Out of that overflow comes a life defined, a life on purpose, and a life on fire for the King and his renown.

Be a doorkeeper, friend. Be a protector of all things sacred. Be a greeter for the kingdom of God. I don’t imagine there’s a finer calling on this side of eternity. Thus, I pray . . .

Keep us to our calling, Lord, to stand watch over the temple and to open its door to others when they come knocking. We want to know you more and then, out of that knowing, help others to know you as well. You are the Way. You are the Truth. You are the Life. In knowing you, we hold all the knowledge we will ever need for this pilgrimage of faith. In knowing you, we know enough to get us safely home. Amen.

12 Responses to on being a “doorkeeper” …

  1. My particular calling came in the form of a need (“the need is the call”). It appears to be a very specific and “seasonal” call. The confirmation? The joy and extraordinary peace and pleasure I am finding as the mantle has fallen on me…

    Thankful YOU experienced the confirmation in such a visual and timely manner. I can imagine the blessing that day.

    • I like that – “the need is the call”. You know how that “need” has changed for you over the years; I’m not currently serving in the manner I thought I would when I received this defining word six years ago. Life was different then; needs are different now. The goal for me has been relinquishing my thought-it-was-going-to-be-this type of calling and allowing God to use me in a new place of ministry… surrender. I know you get this, Rebecca.

  2. In my new freedom of retirement from 37 years of teaching I am no longer “programmed by the bell.” This has taken some getting used to –knowing that God called me to be a teacher. So I thought I had my retirement all figured out –I would consult in businesses that mentor teachers. Last winter, that came to an abrupt halt. I was hurt and fearful of my financial future. I was confused –I was sure that God had wanted me to retire from teaching, but what now? He has led me in a similar way of what you have written in your blog. “Know me, Peggy.” “Serve where I lead you.” I am free from a full time commitment so I am free to go and serve or serve where I am. Knowing Him more each day gives me the freedom of not having to “figure it out.” Total, daily surrender to serve where I am.

    • My dear mentor/teacher and friend,
      It is with great fondness I remember our time together in that 9th grade biology classroom. Truly, your support of me (and willingness to entreat my quirkiness) marked me for life. I have no doubt that God placed you on my pathway so that my heart could intersect with your God-shaped heart. Heaven will reveal the impact of your witness. We cannot predict our futures or how God might use us. We just offer our days to him, as well as our obedience, and we walk if thru WITH him. We are never alone, and there is no fear in our Father’s eyes. He’s got it all. Praying for you today and for a clear ministry path to unfold for you in the season to come. Love you!

  3. What a good word, Elaine! I am in a season of rest in my calling. It is a time of healing from grief and wounds…a time that I thought was past, but God has made it clear that the healing goes on and so does this specific season of rest. I’m eager to get ‘back in the saddle’ should He allow it, but if He does not, I’m perfectly content to have ministry look different than I ever thought it would.

    • Sweet friend, I am sorry to hear about this “unsettling”. Grief and wounds are best tended in quiet with God. No doubt you are spending your time there. I love you!

  4. It seems that God has to periodically remind me of my calling, as he recently has. “We just offer our days to him, as well as our obedience, and we walk if thru WITH him.” Yes!

    • May you feel his comfort and presence as you walk this day through with Jesus, Deb. I pray you are well!

    • Indeed, Cheryl. I’m going to make it my highest priority to open the kingdom door to my students this year.

  5. Dearest friend, I have not been around blog world much these past months. And for that reason, I have not been visiting many of my dear blog neighbors. But because of FB, we remain connected, although of course the blog connection goes much deeper and is definitely more satisfying. And guess what, I took time this early evening to visit you at your blog place… stayed around to read several (six I think) of your latest posts. I read slowly… savoring the words, and the emotions with which you write. I love your heart Elaine. I share your sentiments. You are a kindred soul, I knew that with the very first blog post of yours I ever read, years ago. Thank you for the honesty, transparency, and the clarity with which you write. I am praying that wherever this little note finds you, my prayer is that your heart is at peace, and secure in the Father’s love. Love, Lidia

    • You, Lidia, are the blessing to me. Let us continue along the road with Jesus and look for all the opportunities we have to open the door for others. I love you.

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