Insights with Emily: Locked doors

Emily Salerno-Oswald
Scriptural Columnist

What does it mean to get to the end of yourself?

I think it means that you encounter some circumstance for which you have no answers. You have no idea how it’s meant to turn out. You don’t know how to approach it, from what angle to best look at it, how to hold it in your hands … which are simply too small.

You keep rolling the concept around in your mind, and you realize that you’re just not equipped to provide what is necessary. Whatever the problem might be, you look at it, and you just know that, within yourself, you don’t hold the key. It is a locked door, and someone else holds the key.

What do you do? Do you just let the door remain closed? Do you try to knock the door down by sheer force? Do you try other doors instead?

It seems you’re meant to go through this door, but you don’t know how. You don’t have the power to do so.

I once drew a picture of two different women.

One was the stereotypical “independent woman” whom we hear about so much in today’s culture. This woman prides herself in not needing a man, in not needing anyone or anything for that matter. She provides for herself, and she makes her way up the corporate ladder with confidence and will-power and nothing can stand in her way … hypothetically, that is.

The second woman is the bride/princess. No, not the Princess Bride for all of you film-loving Frannies. This woman doesn’t get her confidence from what she can do. She emanates light and love because of who she is. She accomplishes great things in the world, but not by her own power or efforts, alone. Her power and efforts are amplified by God, who is her king and spouse.

Both women seem pretty well-off, you might think to yourself. And you might be right. But what happens, when each of these women faces a door that they cannot open? Herein lies the difference between the two women.

The independent woman despairs when she gets to the end of herself, because she has nowhere else to go. Meanwhile, the bride/princess of Christ rejoices when she gets to the end of herself, because she knows she was never acting alone to begin with.

She rejoices because she knows that when her power runs out, God’s power kicks in at high-gear. She rejoices because she knows that when she falls upon the ground, utterly empty and depleted, God fills and provides all that is needed. In fact, that is the moment when he smiles, looks upon her and whispers gently, “Finally, I can carry you.”

And he raises up the woman who has nothing left, and he gives her everything she needs. He opens the previously locked door, and he opens it wide. Light rushes in through the door, and the bride/princess is carried victoriously across the threshold.

And then, we flash back to the independent woman, who is not so independent anymore. She stands, shoulders drooping, looking defeatedly at the door that stands in front of her, not knowing how to open it or where to find the key.

One day, these two women meet. The independent woman looks at the bride/princess, and she asks her two questions: “How did you get your door open? What did you do that I didn’t do?”

And the Bride Princess answers, with no hesitation, “I knocked.”

Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Isaiah 43:1-4: “But now, this is what the Lord says — he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush[a] and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.’”