Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #67
Delivered by Eric Butterworth on September 4, 1975
If you have followed much of these teachings, you have no doubt heard the statement: “God never closes one door without first opening another.” For some people this is little more than a cliche, but it is really true. Think back to the many experiences of your life; not all of them were at first glance good. However do you not find many “other door” miracles where seeming misfortune proved in the final analysis to be a blessing? Where crisis became opportunity and where temporary loss led the way to permanent gain?
In the Book of Revelations we are told: “Behold, I have set before thee a door opened which no man can shut.” It has always seemed to me that this door represents your eternal relationship with the Infinite, a divine desire to guide you in the complete unfoldment of your inherent potential. I like Emerson’s thought: “There is no screen or ceiling between our heads and the infinite heavens, so is there no bar or wall in the soul where man the effect ceases and God the cause begins. The walls are taken away; we lie open on one side to the depths of spiritual nature, to the attributes of God.”
We need to occasionally remind ourselves that the overriding purpose of life is growth, and that growth can come only with change. Life is not a static condition, but a dynamic flow of experience. The human in us resists change, seeks to settle down, tries to hold onto positions and relationships. Usually, we refuse to give our place to anyone.
To free yourself from this resistance, think of a square dance. Your rightful place in a square dance is certainly not standing still on a certain section of the floor—that would only get you badly bumped about by the other dancers. Your right place is to heed the directions of the caller and swing freely to the music. So it is with life; we must move forever from experience to experience, situation to situation, ever flexible, ever changing in the flow of the ever unfolding process. As Emerson says, “God offers to every mind the choice between truth and repose; take what you please; you can never have both.”
Though all things change, nothing perishes. You may lose your job but you can never lose your ability to create, to serve; you may lose your house, but you cannot lose the consciousness which attracted the substance with which to build a new house, nor the family spirit which made a true home. One man, having lost his home and all of his possessions in a fire, was discovered resting beneath a tree, fanning himself. He announced that he would start rebuilding the following morning.
Our particular reaction to whatever circumstances and happenings come our way is the key to our lives. It is at this point that we determine whether we will let the infinite substance of God flow through us to meet the need or whether we will founder in self-pity and thus create a barrier of negative thought. You may have thought that you could have succeeded if_ it were not for a certain individual or occurence; however, the divine promise is, “I have set before thee a door open which no man can jshut.” No individual has the power to shut the door to the real source of your good; nothing can stand in your way.
Recall the Bible story of Joseph, whose brothers had sold him into slavery. This was a harsh beginning in the adult world, but Joseph had been a spoiled brat in need of some kind of harsh experience to make a man out of him; he seemed to know intuitively that there was an open door that no man could shut; so he made his way through a chain of circumstances to rise to the position of an early-day prime minister of Egypt. Later, when his brothers were desperate from the famine and came before him for assistance, he was most forgiving and generous to them, commenting, “Ye may have intended it for evil, but God intended it for good.”
Change happens to us all; what is all-important is our personal reaction to it. Changes often seem at first to be bad news; they may range from the inconvenient to the awful. But Paul advises us to overcome evil with good. Have you ever thought of overcoming apparent bad news by naming it good? When change strikes your life, instead of worrying about how unexpected it is, affirm right then and there that all things are working together for good. Name it good, whatever happens. You have not the time or the facility to be prosecutor; never get embroiled in bitterness and wrath. Simply name the experience good; decree that God’s good will is manifest and that nothing can keep your good from you except a self-created attitude in your mind.
If you announce, after a seeming disappointment, “Well, there go my chances of success,” then that is the level of consciousness on which you will be working for the immediate future. Is that what you want to happen? You can close your heart and mind to life this way, but life never closes its doors to you! What seems to be a closed door is but the illusion created by your own feelings of self-pity, bitterness, wounded pride, regret and anger.
Whistler, who was to become a renowned painter, wanted as a youth to become a soldier. At West Point as a cadet he failed a chemistry exam, and that terminated his military career. In later years, joking about the one incorrect answer that had made the difference between passing and failing, he said that if silicon had been a gas he would have been a major general instead of an artist. No matter what happens in your life, do not forget the promise of the open door. Feel the relentless force within you seeking to lead you to the perfect fulfillment of your uniqueness.
In the north of Scotland is a famous showplace—an elaborate old hunting lodge. Many years ago, as the story goes, an inebriated guest opened a bottle of soda water and splashed it all over one of the interior walls. The resulting splotch was most unsightly, and most of the guests were quite dismayed at the occurence. But one man asked if he might remain behind after the others had left; he then went to work with crayon and charcoal and later oil paints, transforming the enormous stains into a representation of towering Highland rocks with a rushing waterfall pouring over them; the most obvious area of stain was rendered into a magnificent stag, leaping across the torrent, pursued by hunters in the background. Thus did the artist. Sir Edwin Landseer, create a most memorable and beautiful mural which brought beauty out of ugliness and good out of bad. Everyone who visits the area asks to see this instance of glorious art wrought out of a messy mistake.
This is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s classic lines from As You Like It: “Sweet are the uses of adversity,/ Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,/ Wears yet a precious jewel in its head;/ And this our life exempt from public haunt/ Finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks,/ Sermons in stones and good in everything.” You too can find good in everything. Any challenge or change can work for good, and you can make a blessing out of whatever appears to be a handicap, if you will know the truth, if you will name it good, and if you will expect continued growth and unfoldment. Whatever may be the problem confronting you, the door is open to the solution to it and to a greater good which no one can keep from you. Clear your mind of doubt and let God direct your steps.
Here is a poem I would like to share with you. It is called “The Door Is Open”, by Hazel Thomas Wright: “Be still and know whatever may betide;/ No door is closed but another opens wide;/ A door that opens to a boundless view/ Of blessings, rich in promise, vital, new;/ Blessings more wonderful than you have known./ Dare to step through the door and claim your own!/ Keep clear your inner vision, thus to see/ The good awaiting you, and constant be./ Face each new venture with a joyful song;/ Lift up your head and heart, be valiant, strong./ With God as your protector, friend and guide,/ No door is closed but that another opens wide.”
© 1975, by Eric Butterworth