Will you answer the knock at the door of your heart? An early disciple took a momentous step in responding to who’s there.
On hearing someone say “Knock, knock,” we know to reply, “Who’s there?” as the setup for a joke. While all in fun, the interchange reflects social expectation of answering the door when someone knocks. But there’s a far more profound knocking on a door that calls for utmost response.
I speak of a life-changing knock on the door of our hearts, which can only be opened by our inner awareness and willingness to allow God to enter when He comes knocking—and He will! This is an essential step forward if we are to, as the apostle Peter admonished, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Peter himself had learned that growing in grace and knowledge is not an event, but an ongoing developmental experience in our ability to respond to Christ’s great invitation of “Follow Me.”
Many of you as readers of Beyond Today magazine believe there is an intervening God who not only acted as Creator or First Cause but has interrupted time and space repeatedly through history in working out His plan to ultimately establish His coming Kingdom on earth. You trust that this same God interrupts our personal lives in calling us to a saving relationship with Him. But with all this understood, are you ready today or tomorrow for God to interrupt your life yet again?
The two-way knocking in Scripture
Many a sincere follower of Jesus Christ is familiar with His promising, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). We are further assured by Him, “Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). So we take up the invitation to “knock” on God’s door, expectant of His response.
But what happens when Christ comes knocking at our door at unexpected times with previously unknown directives to take us through the next steps of “growing in grace and knowledge”? In His message to His followers through the ages He states: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
Here is the key to progress on the narrow way less traveled (see Matthew 7:13-14)—to growing in our relationship with God through Christ. The knocking, we see, goes both ways. We knock on God’s door, and in turn He knocks on ours—on our hearts. The question in the latter case is not whether He will knock, as He certainly will. The real question, rather, is whether we will open the door and respond to Who’s there.
Opening doors at Joppa
Consider the illustrative event in Acts 10 with two men actively knocking on God’s door in prayer and God knocking on their doors. One was the God-fearing Roman centurion Cornelius, and the other was the apostle Peter. God gave each man a special vision, the divine knocking asking them to do the unthinkable. The man of conquering Rome was to seek out a member of a conquered people and learn about Jesus. And Peter, a Jewish man of that conquered people, was to accept invitation into the gentile’s home and share the fullness of the gospel with him and his household. Again, this was unimaginable in that day!
Peter and his fellow Jewish Christians had a narrow read on Scripture declaring that through Abraham—ultimately through Abraham’s descendant Jesus—“all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Peter was about to find out the big meaning of the small words all and blessed. When reading the full story in Acts 10, we discover it took a little longer for him to respond to the knocking from above than Cornelius, but he did. And as God was with Peter, so is He persistent but patient with us in our responding to Him.
Yet there’s more to this account. The launch pad for God’s work here, the place where God knocked on the door of Peter’s heart to enable this disciple to spiritually develop and welcome gentiles into God’s family, is telling. His lodging at the time was at the seaport of Joppa (Acts 10:5). What’s significant about that? It recalls the story of the prophet Jonah, who received a knock on the door of his heart to preach a message of repentance to gentiles. It was by way of Joppa that Jonah slammed the door on God and fled the scene (Jonah 1:1-3).
But around 800 years later another servant of God, one heeding Christ’s invitation of “Follow Me,” would go from Joppa toward where God led him, not running from God’s lead. Why? Peter came to a moment like that of the patriarch Job who declared to God,
“I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5). God was interrupting this disciple’s life for a great purpose, leading him into a new chapter.
When the knocking is for us
How about you and me? How do we open the door of our heart when Christ comes knocking and in turn walk through the doors our Heavenly Father opens for us to grow in grace and knowledge? You may not experience a vision, but God has His ways. Perhaps this column is such a knocking for you. Allow me in conclusion to share some thoughts to keep in mind for whenever the knocking from above comes our way.
Realize that God not only created time but is the master of timing. He made the sun, the moon and the stars, and He is still actively creating something special in you. As Isaiah acknowledged to God, “We are the clay, and You are our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). He is the One who turns the wheel His way to mold us in His image and not ours. And He’s not finished with us. He will keep knocking on our door to invite us to experience the next step of the molding process.
Further, recognize that while God’s great purpose for humanity and ourselves never changes (Isaiah 46:9-11), He reveals more detail to us along the way, filling us in when He’s ready to take us to the next level of understanding. This is the same God who informs us, “Behold, I will do a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19). His revelation also declares, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
That newness can at times be a hurdle for us, perhaps hindering us from opening the door God is knocking on right now. Change does not come easily. It may be so strangely new, even scary, that we miss or run away from what God is doing. We won’t always grasp His purposes: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). Simply put, we must come to expect the unexpected from God in timing and manner.
Finally, remember Peter in Joppa and the Jonah connection? God will at times take His covenant people and individual believers back to related circumstances to finish “unfinished business.” Life is often a circle with renewed opportunities to go forward in heeding the invitation of “Follow Me.”
Knock, knock? We know who’s there—who’s always there. Let’s be always attentive and responsive in opening the door!