For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God …
Psalm 84:10 (ESV)
As I read that familiar scripture this morning, I first focused as I always do, on the part about being in the courts of God, close to Him. Of course I want to be inside His courts! That’s where the action is! Where all the good stuff happens. Right?
But today a reflection in the Celtic Daily Prayer Book provoked me to look instead at what it means to be a doorkeeper in God’s house. And I realized that as much as I love being deep in the courts of the Lord, close to the throne of God — my calling is to be a doorkeeper. Yes, God has called me to be a doorkeeper in the house of my God.
You see, I know what the courts of God look like. I know the glory that is there. I know the beauty, the warmth, the pure light of grace that draws me close into the warm embrace of God. I have experienced the transcendent moments of sitting at the feet of Jesus, the Kind Savior and listening to His voice — sometimes a soft whisper, sometimes ringing like a bright bell and sometimes thundering like a mighty blast. I know the healing that is there. The comfort, the peace, the salvation and restoration of my soul. I know the ten thousand charms that are found inside the courts of the King.
But happily inside, I can’t help but notice the door that sits open. Open to a world outside that doesn’t know, has never ventured beyond the threshold of the open door to God’s presence. So I stand at the door and speak welcome to those who pass by. Some are sick, really sick and desperately in need of a safe refuge. Some are poor or wounded or battered by the storms of life. Some are young, some are old and some are in between. It doesn’t matter who they are, what their circumstances might be. The door stands open for all, every one. EVERY one.
So I stand at the door. I watch for them and as they walk by, I invite them in. Like Jesus to Andrew in John 1:38, I point to the courts inside and say, “Come and see.”
Some don’t even notice my invitation. Some notice but just walk on by. But I know that I may see them another time and when I do, I will again invite them to come inside and see. That’s why I stand at the door.
There are others who do step inside — timid, uncertain at first. When they enter the door, the light is bright and the glory is awesome and sometimes, it is more than they can bear and I can see they are tempted to run away. That’s why I stand at the door. I am called not only to invite them in but to watch carefully those who have stepped over the threshold. To look in their eyes and see how they are doing in this new experience of being in the courts of the King.
I speak gentle words of encouragement and make sure they are not drawn back outside. When you’ve walked and worked and lived in the dark, war-torn world that is outside these doors, the light and holiness that is inside can be overwhelming at first. They don’t speak the language. They don’t know the ways of this inside world and a doorkeeper’s job is to help them … help them.
“Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are
for the old life, they have seen too much:
once taste God, and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
to tell them how much better it is inside.”
Samuel Moor Shoemaker
That’s why I stand at the door. That’s why I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God.
After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.