One Door at a Time

“Can I help you?”

I shook my head no, his reply made me grin.

“Y’all just out playing?”

I laughed. He hit the nail on the head. The Martins had loaded up for an afternoon trip to the big box store that I despise, so Scott Martin and I thought we would introduce our 3 to a hidden gem shared by the same city as the Big-Box-hate-it-store.

As we meandered north on the interstate we were questioned multiple times about where we were going. I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer so I just said, “We’re going North to run a few errands.”

We pulled into a parking space a little after four, Scott made note of the time,

“They close at five.”

I was standing just inside the entrance when I met the nail-on-the-head hitting Proprietor. He introduced himself by his first name, offered us light snacks and gave us a quick rundown of all the things to see. I said thanks and told him we were the Martins.

“Welcome Martins.”

man-in-bus-247929In no time the history, weird object loving, have to touch it to actually see it, Martins realized we weren’t just on an errand, we had opened the door to a treasure trove. They were amazed by the huge doors and obsolete fixtures. The loose keys and endless supply of oddities. They are scavengers, they love a treasure and an oddity. I reckon they get that from their Mama. I too, love the very same things. As we meandered down rows and aisles, gigantic doors and ornate everythings, we picked up and held hinges and door knobs (the one who resides on the autism shallow-focus-of-clear-hourglass-1095601spectrum was especially fascinated by the doorknobs), all manner of locks, things that were vaguely familiar and some that were not.

We decided on a fire brick, it had our name stamped on it. “Martin” in a nice font. We got a broken one, it cost less.

We ventured into rooms and eventually made our way to another room. Comparatively speaking it was a bit more sparse. There tucked away in a corner as if it had been put in time-out for bad behavior was a rusted door with the faded word “Colored” on it.
I stopped in my tracks. I walked closer and touched the letters, almost as if I were trying to discern if they were real. My eyes quickly fell to the “Not for Sale” note and the words that had been placed there by the original finder of the door. The note confirmed I was not the first to stop dead in my tracks in front of it, and it asked a question I have continued to ponder.

I traced the letters again and I wondered what all they’d witnessed. How many dark and worn hands had touched them in submission, in disgust, in fear, in outrage and maybe even in hope. Hope that one day such an object would be unnecessary, unwanted, appalling and obsolete.

I called the Martins over to me and their reactions were surprising to me. I had expected outrage, I had expected anger, but that is not at all what I got. They walked up took a closer look for themselves. After I read the letter out loud to them and snapped a picture, the three of them were soon off to see other more intriguing oddities. I stood a moment and pondered the door, my children,… I pondered much.

As the evening moved on and we left with more than our share of complimentary goodies, the firebricks and a couple of metal letters. I thought about that letter on the door and the challenge it posed,

112019-36-History-Civil-War-Reconstruction“Do you keep the writing on the door showing an era in America’s history or do you erase the words to not promote such a negative time in America’s history?”

I was undecided in the beginning. As a mama of multiracial children I want nothing more than to protect them from the hate of this world, the hate of our history even. I never want them to feel they are anything less than the beautiful humans they are. My first reaction, my knee jerk reaction as they say, “Paint it. Sand it. Erase it. Get rid of it.”

For the record, my knee jerk is rarely right.

As the night went on I realized what my children must’ve realized but weren’t able to verbalize. It was a terrible part of our history but it is our today that matters most. They are a living, breathing testimony to that. That door did not represent hate to them because they are no different than their lighter skinned brother, mother and father. They are Martins just as much as we are. There is no distinction between us. We are one family.

The King restored Hope when He designed our family. What was meant for evil and done in hate, He is redeeming for good and for love’s sake, one day at a time, exchanging hate for Grace.

My answer to the question? Keep it. Keep the letters as a testament to redemption and grace. Acknowledge that hate once prevailed and moved forward with the knowledge that it doesn’t have to. Exchange the hate for love one door at a time.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throneand before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and

Construction Zone: Doors

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9 ESV

Wouldn’t it be strange to walk up to a house being built and find it has no door?

I recall a history field trip with my children to a re-creation of an Indian village in Alabama. As we did the walking tour, we approached a walled structure that seemed to have no door. The kids were quite puzzled, and I myself was unfamiliar with this kind of construction and not really sure what to do. It was a circular structure made of straight tree trunks standing side by side to make a near-perfect wall. The trunks were 10-12 feet tall, each sharpened to a point making them look as if a giant had planted all his pencils in the ground eraser end down. As we circled around the wall we finally came upon a way in. The design was ingenious. The circular wall spiraled inside itself so that there was no actual closing door, yet it was very secure since it was close to impossible to know where the entrance was without intense searching.

Doors into structures are important. Open doors specifically. A closed and locked door offers no help to those seeking to gain entrance. An open portal allows entry. And what is more welcoming than an unlocked door?

I will never forget my grandmama’s house. She never, ever locked her door.  In fact, the tarnished old skeleton key stayed in the door all the time just in case she ever needed to leave for a long time and lock the house – and by long, I mean weeks. I’ve gone to her house many times and walked right in with a “Yoo-hoo! We’re here!” Sometimes I’d get a response from back in the kitchen, but other times I’d search for her like a grown-up game of hide-and-seek only to find her out back in her garden with an apron full of garden vegetables. Still other times I’d search house and yard only to determine she wasn’t home, and then I’d leave her a little note telling her I’d dropped by. Those welcoming, unlocked doors were just as important as any locked door ever has been.

Locked doors keep things out.

Unlocked doors allow entrance.

abbey-arcade-arch-157391Have we gotten so used to locking our physical doors in life that we have begun to lock out others from our lives in relational, emotional, spiritual ways as well? Has technology created distance in relationships or enabled us to retreat from others and become like hermit crabs, safe in our shell and all to ourselves? Research is telling us that this i-phone generation is among the loneliest in recorded history. They have many online “friends” and “followers,” but socialize face-to-face more rarely than any generation before. Consequently, depression, suicide, and broken families are on the increase.

As children of God, we are called to be His ambassadors – His liaisons to this lonely, hurting world. How does that tie in with our focus this year on constructing our homes and lives in a way that pleases our heavenly Father? Today, let’s examine the access we allow others to our lives and how God might view our behaviors.

architecture-door-exterior-162057Jesus said, “I am the door.” As “little Christs” we are to be little doors as well. Doors that open to reveal the heart and home of Christ to the world. Doors that open and welcome others. Not self-protective doors locking out the “evil” world.

I must ask myself, is my life and home a portal through which others can come to meet the Christ? Is your life an open door?

Think through these questions honestly and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you.

» Do you react to others receptively? Lovingly? Openly? Willing to help?

» Do you regularly invite people into your life to listen to them, encourage them, and pray for them?

» Do you invest in the lives of other women?

» Do you regularly share Jesus with people the Holy Spirit brings across your path?

» Does your home and life say to others, “Come,” and point them to Jesus?

– OR –

» Do you find yourself mainly secluded in your own home and family life?

» Do you socialize, but not broach spiritual discussions nor pray for those you encounter who need Jesus?

» Are you fearful of certain types of people? Do you allow this to keep you from being an open door to them?

If the Holy Spirit has spoken to you through this little evaluation, take a moment to journal a prayer to your Father. Your construction assignment this week as you work to build your spiritual home: Make sure you put a door in. Anything else would be unnatural. Humble yourself to be willing and obedient. Be that open door that invites others to Christ in word and deed.

 

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