Behind Every Door: A Bible Study for Asbury's Worship
by Rev. Lee Johnson
june 27, 2021
I remember when I pastored in Seward, Nebraska. My office sat in the middle of a long hallway, just down from the “back” entrance to the church. Most people entered there due to the closeness of the parking lot. Because I rarely shut my office door, I could hear the back door open and knew a visitor was coming down the hall. I listened to the footsteps in anticipation of who might be stopping by. Somewhere along the way, I begin to recognize footsteps, discovering that people had a uniqueness to their stride. Eventually, I could accurately predict who it was that opened the back door and was about to stop in. “I knew it was you,” I would say. Wouldn’t it be nice if life was like that, if you knew what face was about to greet you or what life event was coming through the door? Sometimes, though, whether it be a face or an event, we get surprised. Of course, sometimes the surprise is good and welcomed. But, then there are those times “it” comes to the door, unwelcomed and uninvited. Can you recall a circumstance that entered your life door and caught you by surprise? What did you make of it? What did you do? As a person of faith, did you see the event connected to God in any way?
I pastored at the former Valley View UMC in Overland Park for 13 years. It accounts for my longest stay at any one church. During those 13 years, the congregation experienced tragic loss in three different ways – the death of a 15-year-old in a swimming accident, the death of a 16-year-old in a bike accident, and the death of an 18-year-old (on her last day of high school) in a car accident. In each case, hard life loss came through the door unannounced and uninvited. It just showed up. Family and friends, and an entire congregation, were left to make sense out of the loss. How do you put something like that in what I call a “faith” perspective? In 1944, Leslie Weatherhead, a pastor in the British Methodist Church, wrote The Will of God. Weatherhead pastored for 24 years at the City Temple Methodist Church in London. He wrote the book to help parishioners work through the war trauma that leveled much of London, including the destruction of the City Temple Church. Loss and grief had distorted how some experienced the presence of God in their lives. Said Weatherhead, “What sort of God pours out misery undeserved?” When you hear the phrase “will of God” what do you think? How do you connect the “will of God” to the events of your life?
In the early 1950s, Weatherhead used the 139th Psalm as his text for a sermon. People, he knew, were still struggling with the aftermath of WWII, and now a nuclear threat called the Cold War loomed outside the door. The people of Israel, who first heard this Psalm, also knew uncertainty and the challenges of loss and disaster, and the threat of war. The 139th Psalm was written to proclaim the presence of God in the midst of their challenges. From that Psalm, Weatherhead proclaimed, “I cannot predict an outcome to the uncertainty before us, but I can tell you it is the will of God to meet you behind every life door.” This past year has seen its share of uncertainty. More than 600,000 people in our country have died from a disease that 18 months ago we never knew. It just showed up at the door, unannounced and uninvited. We didn’t recognize its footsteps. What then are we to make of a time that challenges our faith and moves many of us to doubt whether God is behind the next door? Take a close look today. See who is behind the door, then open it, for God will meet you there. What does it say about the nature of God to meet us behind every life door?
Psalm 139: 1-18
Asbury's Weekend Worship: https://www.visitasbury.org/worship/
Beginning Sunday, June 27 at 11 a.m. for Live Stream or 5 p.m. for recording.
Behind every door is God.