I broke out in a cold sweat. I would be speaking to five hundred managers of a Fortune 500 company only ten minutes from now—and my notes were still in my hotel room on the ninth floor. I sprinted to the elevator, diving like Indiana Jones through the doors just as they closed. Whirling to face front, I frantically pressed the button for the ninth floor. Then I crouched, panting like some predatory cat, poised to spring through the doors the second they opened.
A glance at my watch showed there were now seven minutes before speech time. The elevator finally reached the ninth floor and stopped. But the door didn’t open. There was a sound like the door had opened. There was that little convulsive shake an elevator makes when the door opens. But the door didn’t open. In a matter of moments, in a ballroom nine floors below me, I’d be introduced as the speaker. I could picture the applause, then the silence, the murmuring, and the confusion as no one stepped to the platform.
My imagination went wild. What if I was trapped in here for weeks? Maybe archaeologists would pry the door open sometime in the future, only to find my skeleton slumped in a corner. In panic I pressed the little “Open Door” button. Each time I pressed, the elevator would make a sound as if the door were opening. It would shake as if the door were opening. But that door didn’t open.
The bad word that had tried to escape my lips the day my airbag went off made it all the way this time. I kicked the door. I didn’t want to hurt it; I wasn’t trying to be destructive. I was only helping the maintenance people—I figured a good kick might jar the door loose. Maybe a second kick, a really good one, would be even more helpful.
In the process of abusing the door, I allowed my finger to slip from the little “Open Door” button and the elevator set off on its travels again.
Now I was frantic. The elevator crawled to the fourteenth floor and stopped. Once again it offered all the sound effects and tremors that accompany an opening door, and once again the door remained shut. I lost control. The clock was ticking—three minutes were left to avoid public humiliation before the tycoons of the world. I was ruined! I banged on the door, jabbed at the “Open Door” button, and started yelling, “Someone call the front desk! Call the police! The elevator door is stuck!”
From behind me, a timid voice squeaked, “No it ain’t.”
I felt a cold chill. The elevator had been empty when I entered it. Was the thing haunted? Every hair on my body stood at attention.
With bulging eyes I spun around, prepared to defend myself against some misty elevator phantom—only to face seven wide-eyed hotel guests waiting to get on.
This was one of those elevators with doors in both the front and the back. The people just stood there. They seemed reluctant to share a small, closed-in space with me.
The meeting had run long and I arrived at the ballroom in plenty of time for my speech. I recounted my ordeal as an illustration of how often we allow daily frustrations to affect our attitude. After the meeting a sweet, elderly women drew me aside. “I was standing there waiting to get on when the elevator stopped the first time,” she said. Then with a wry smile, she shook her finger at me and clucked, “That was a bad word!”
I’ve recalled that incident many times. I’ve been on this ride before. Many times I’ve stood kicking at one door, screaming because it wouldn’t open. I often fail to see open doors of opportunity all around me—doors leading to thrilling new destinations—because I want what I want, I want to get to it my way and I want it now. The opportunity for me to get to my meeting was there all along, but I had imposed unnecessary limits. I was beating on the wrong door.
How often are we blinded to the opportunities God gives us because of our tunnel vision? I’m finally learning to look around for new doorways. It’s never too late to open your eyes.
It could even keep you from saying some bad words.
Is there a door you’ve tried to open that remains shut in spite of your best efforts?
Have you taken a look around for alternate doors?
The path to your dreams may be at the back of the elevator, the side of the elevator—even right through the roof. It may require more effort than you thought. You might even have to take the stairs.
Ask friends you trust if they see any open doors. Ask God to show you the doors he has opened.
There is nothing to lose by considering all your options. Lighten up and check the back door. You may be surprised at what you find.