Illumination comes at strange moments.
It was about seven this morning when I reached down to do something I have done thousands of times before. In my semi-catatonic state (one might almost say I was in a waking dream), I suddenly became aware of the significance of what I was doing.
More to the point, I became acutely aware of a tool I had been using repeatedly, but had never acknowledged. My hand jerked back from the door knob on the closet door, and I stooped down to look at it.
I have never before considered what an amazing thing it is to have a latch that is actuated by a knob on a door. Any door. But today, especially my closet door.
It’s not a pretentious doorway, not even a renowned one. No famous person has ever, to my knowledge, opened it or even peeked through it. Essentially one human being has utilized this doorway over the last ten years with regularity.
In all the time I’ve turned that knob, I have never written a tribute to it, never immortalized it in song, never even so much as mentioned it to a friend. You would think that the brass-colored mechanism means nothing to me and that I wouldn’t care if it stopped functioning tomorrow.
You would be wrong.
I need that doorknob. I depend on it in a way I depend on few things in my life. Without it, I cannot reach through the doorway and select a clean shirt to put on in the morning. I can’t pick up the pair of shoes that matches my activity for the day, and wouldn’t be able to decide whether I will wear khakis or blue jeans to cover my legs on any given workday. In short, that doorknob is a necessity for life as I know it.
I don’t have to think about whether it will work the next time I turn it. I routinely slam the door behind me, certain that it will latch and seal the doorway until I need it once again. It simply does what it is designed to do, what it was built to do many years ago.
It is, after all, a very old doorknob. Older even, than I am.
Still it functions, day after long day, night after dark night.
Turn–open. Slam–close. Turn–open. Slam–close. Again and again, it fulfills its purpose.
And, I have never once knelt down and talked to it, encouraging it in its labor. I’ve never complimented it to anyone while in earshot, never reached down and patted it after I opened and closed the closet door to take out my clothes for the day.
I want to be careful how I communicate this next thought, for I fear it might be misunderstood. You see, the lesson of the doorknob, the astonishing thing that I perceived in the fog of half wakefulness this morning, is one that I have yet to engage in my own life.
I know that I have a purpose. I am confident of it. I am also fairly sure I am in the process of fulfilling that purpose in life. My problem is I don’t want to be used. Not without being acknowledged.
I don’t want to be used.
Not unless you intend to praise me, or stroke me, or pay me.
The fear I mentioned of being misunderstood is a concern that folks who read this will think it incumbent upon them to stroke this scribe, to compliment what I do. That is not the point I am making. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. I want to learn to do exactly what I have been placed here for without ever once expecting a compliment, without ever once craving a pat on the back.
I have mentioned before the mindset performers get into of needing more and more encouragement every time they perform. And, that’s just the thing. I don’t want to perform. I want to be a doorknob.
I want to be a doorknob.
I realize I will never be the doorway. I will never be the destination. But, I can be the doorknob, the mechanism which enables people to move between the place they are, through the doorway, and into the next location.
The doorknob serves. And yeah, the doorknob gets used. And, it’s okay.
So, here’s an invitation for each one of you who read this: Perhaps you’ve been trapped in a room and needed to find the doorknob to get out. If I’ve ever helped you to do that, I am paid in full. No compliments, no pats on the back, are necessary.
But, more than that, I hope you’ll want to be the mechanism by which others do the same thing–move through the doorway to better places, to be changed people. It is what every one of us is intended to do.
I told you that I will never be the doorway. But, I know Someone who is. He made the claim when he walked this earth many centuries ago.
“I am the Door. If any man enters through Me, he will go in and out and will find sustenance for his soul.”
I think I’m going to like this doorknob job.
“I like stepping into the future. Therefore, I look for doorknobs.”
(Mark Rosen ~ American sports reporter/author)
“Proclaim the message. Be ready to do this whether or not the time is convenient. Refute, warn, and encourage with the utmost patience when you teach.”
(2 Timothy 4:2 ~ International Standard Version)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.
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