Please join us for our third post in “Our Favorites” series. We hope today’s post is a blessing!
“I picked this one because I miss so much the deep spiritual conversations I had with my husband Mark. This article has been like a worm in my brain since the day I read it…I keep thinking about it, not letting it go, even years later.” ~Elizabeth
Saloon Door Theology by Jo King
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
Proverbs 15:3 ESV
Saloon Door Theology is a term I first heard from Dr. David Bishop during a theology seminar. It is a way of teaching a biblical concept which may not be perceived the same way by all who are listening. A saloon door is most welcoming to the first individual entering through the door. Yet, the person following may get slapped in the face as the door swings back.
A great example of saloon door theology is a pastor stating our loving Father is there for us all. Sounds great to most, right? But what about the individual who has suffered abuse at the hand of her own father? Can that person relate to the analogy? The entire concept may be lost on that person.
Suddenly I realized there are also Saloon Door Situations. I encountered a situation such as this recently. Let me take the long way around to explain.
Church has been difficult for me since my husband’s death nearly a year ago. You see, Bruce was instrumental in my returning to church and again trusting God. Therefore, every time I go, I am overwhelmed with reminders of him.
This morning, for the first time since his sudden death, I am in a good mood, eager to join together with God’s people in worship. An easy light banter with friends before the service has me smiling as I enter the choir loft, and as I sang through the first two songs. I was so ready to worship God joyfully!
Our adult education minister stands to welcome the congregation, congratulating a couple on their sixty-ninth wedding anniversary. Wow! Sixty-nine years married! And all I can think of is my Bruce. Why did we only get twenty-two years? Why was he taken from me so young?
I feel the saloon door slap me in the face. My joy is gone. Grief crashes into me, rushing over me yet again. I struggle through the rest of the music, hiding my feelings through the sermon as I sit facing the whole church in the choir loft.
The pastor begins to preach on Proverbs 15:3. The Lord is with us even when we try to hide from him or when we think he isn’t there. Even though we may perceive God is not present, the reality is God is with us at all times and in all places. That message drives home for me personally. God knows my situation. He knows I am hurting. He knows I miss my husband, and how those feelings cut like a knife into my chest. He knows that I’m just struggling to breathe and not cry in front of all these people.
The Lord is here to comfort me, holding my hand through this entire process. He will not forsake me. He has blessed me in a thousand small ways. I need only to concentrate on the blessings and not on the loss.
I begin to count those blessings. Wow! God is so great, so magnificent…and yet he is also in every small detail. I see His work appear in seemingly trivial times, as well. I want to burst into song again. The song Count Your Blessings streams through my mind! The grief is pushed back, and joy slowly pushes through again. I feel a quiet, simple peace, joy fueled by God’s love and empowered through His Word.
Then I realize…God has done it again. He has blessed me with this pastor and his words, with music I have sung in the past, by friends who smile and give quick hugs…God is so good!
God, I pray that You continue to make me and others who are suffering aware of the many blessings You shower on each of us continuously. Thank You for Scripture which pops into our minds as we struggle. Thank You for the music streaming unbidden through our subconscious, which is always just the right song for a particular time and situation. Thank You for the pastors who bring the honest and truthful messages of Your word, who don’t apologize when the sermon steps on toes, and who are always there when we need a human hand. Thank You, Lord, for Your love! Amen.