There is an old story, I am not aware of its origin, that each day as we go into the world we pass through one of three doors. The first door is the dark way, the door of evil intentions, which leads to harm for ourselves and others. The second door leads to neither good nor bad intentions, and the third door leads to the good intentions of serving and helping others. The interesting thing about the story is that it continues by telling us that most people go out into the world each day by way of the door of no intentions – intending neither bad nor good - but when we do so, we invariably return by way of the dark door.
There is certainly some truth to this simple little story. How many times have we gone out into the day not intending anything in particular only to sooner or later run into traffic, coworkers, messages or whatever that rouse us to frustration, anger, fear, doubt, or other negative feelings or actions. According to the story, it is only as we go out into the day through the light door – the door of intending to do good – that we will return by way of the middle door, or, if our intentions are maintained, through the door of good intentions.
The story has a point, but its weakness is clear. We all know that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions" (as first stated by Bernard of Clairvaux), and that of themselves even the best of intentions usually are not enough. Simply put, the door of our own good intentions really only leads to a partial solution to the problem of how our lives will really play out.
But the old story can remind us, of course, of the words of Jesus which carry a much more profound lesson. The Book of John records His words: “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9). This was part of the parable Jesus told of the sheepfold with the sheep and the door they entered in and out of. But the words fit our old story well, too.
It is only as we go out into the world through the power of Christ – the true door – that our good intentions will be more fully realized and maintained. That takes conscious thought and determination, but if we remind ourselves daily of the door through which we need to walk, we will be much less likely to go out through the door of wrong intentions or that of no intentions at all.