(This is from the archives and one of my favorite posts. Mostly, because I think the vast majority of people and especially Christians, get the whole concept of open and shut doors wrong.)
“God never opens doors that have been closed. He opens other doors, but He reminds us that there are doors we have shut (bold is mine), doors which need never have been shut, imaginations which need never have been sullied. Never be afraid when God brings back the past. Let memory have its way…..God will turn the what “might have been” into a wonderful culture for the future. ” (My Utmost for His Highest“, Oswald Chambers)
I’ve used this devotional for years and years. The first copyright is 1935 so the language is a bit stiff but the daily readings are incredibly powerful. I’ve yet to feel that I’ve gotten to the depth of what Chambers is saying. Every day seems fresh as though I’d never read it before.
My personal copy is so marked up I need to use my newer one but the over-worn pages of this one are too comforting with its scars, underlining, and dog-eared pages. I would feel like I was abandoning a friend. I share the quote above with you today because I sense someone needs to hear it.
I’m hesitant to even discuss this as it’s such a complex subject and certainly one relatively short post doesn’t begin to do the subject justice. But because this kind of thinking seems so prominent I feel prompted to at least try.
This whole “open and closed doors”, whether one is a Christian or not, is highly overrated if used as a benchmark to decide upon a course of action.
It’s like saying, “If that purse is on sale when I go back to the store, it’s a sign (open-door) that I’m supposed to buy it. If it’s not (closed-door), it’s a sure sign I’m not supposed to buy it.” Ridiculous, huh, but we all do it.
I’ve done it often myself.
Christians often take it a step further and mistakenly assume that an open door automatically means God is behind it and a closed-door means He’s not.
But doors are opened all the time that are not good for us and closed doors may well mean God wants us to work harder or go in another direction. If Moses had accepted Pharoah’s first denial to let the Israelites go as a closed door, the Israelites might still be in captivity!
If I went by my experience with blogging as an example, all I can say is I felt like a lot of doors had been shut but I keep plugging away anyway because I was sure God was insisting I move forward. There seemed to be a lot of closed doors on my journey to this point. If I hadn’t kept “knocking”, and shoving doors open, I would never have gotten past the first attempt.
Years ago, my husband was eagerly sought out by a local business person who wanted him to come and work for him. My husband was feeling the pull strongly as his place of employment at the time was undergoing some difficulties.
It was a family-owned business and they were squabbling with each other. The new offer meant more money. We discussed it and we both felt it was time to move on so my husband accepted the job.
His new employer said he and his wife would like to take us out to dinner that very night.
When we got into his car, it was as he had morphed into someone my husband had never met. I was meeting him for the first time and I can honestly say, I felt a kind of terror when I looked him in the eyes. This was a man who oozed malevolence.
As the evening wore on, my heart sank deeper and deeper. I knew I had met the first (and only one up to this point) person I would characterize as truly “evil”.
His demeaning behavior to the wait staff at the restaurant was horrendous. He was nothing short of a bully. His revelations about his family said a lot. (They didn’t have anything to do with him.) My husband was feeling the same way. We kept exchanging glances that said, “Oh, no, what have we gotten in to?”
We knew we had made a huge mistake. No amount of money in the world would make up for working for this man.
It was about 10:00 in the evening. The night had gone on way too long as this bully of a man ordered people around as though they were his personal servants. We hoped my husband’s former employer would re-hire him but you can figure out how that went.
That door was shut and God didn’t open it.
I can remember that night clearly. We were heartsick and knew even worse was coming. We were not mistaken.
It was a year and a half of hell. My husband went into a deep depression. The stress was so great his back went into spasms that continued for months.
As it turned out this man was criminal in his business practices. After about a year, my husband reported him to the board of directors. He was eventually fired but by this time the company was on its way to complete failure.
My husband found another job but that too went south. All in all, it was a terrible three years.
Finally, after three months of unemployment (thank goodness that’s all it was), my husband found a new job at one-half his former salary. Ouch! This time though we knew it was a door that God had opened. We also knew that our years of turmoil were our own fault.
We had been greedy. This new opportunity turned out to be the best job he’d ever had. The people were great; the company was great. The job led to international travel and allowed us both to see the world.
We purposely remember this experience as a reminder of how easy it is to think that when something looks good, it is good. That when a door “opens”, it doesn’t necessarily mean we should walk through it.
Many people have been led down a path to destruction because of that line of thinking. It’s just another version of “if it feels good, do it”.
Consider the words from “You Light Up My Life” recorded by Debbie Boone and others over the years, “It can’t be wrong when it feels so right“.
Oh yes, it can.
When something doesn’t smell right, doesn’t feel right, we need to step back and let God clear our thinking. And even if it does smell right and feel right, we still need to step back and let God either reinforce the direction we are heading or put a roadblock in our way.
I’m not suggesting it’s as easy as I made it sound. Sometimes it is; sometimes it isn’t. And, yes, sometimes we can talk ourselves into believing God has directed us to take a certain course of action and still be wrong. Sometimes only time will tell.
In our case, we hadn’t rushed into our decision but we also hadn’t brought God into the equation as we should have. Those three years were our training ground in learning to lean on God. But we don’t believe this was God’s preferred method to teach us.
This is a big subject, God’s leading.
I certainly don’t mean to come across as an expert but I have had a long walk with God (since I was very young) and I’ve done my homework. And I realize the argument could even be made that we did make the right decision and that God meant for us to go through a tough learning experience to grow our faith.
Even if all that were true, the concept of being slow to assume an open door is God-sent still applies. I just know that when a “good” opportunity comes our way now, both of us are much more cautious before we walk through that door.
What do you think? What has been your experience with “open” and “closed” doors? I would love to hear from you regardless of your faith background. It’s never been my intention to narrow the audience of this blog to only those who believe as I do. We learn the best when we expose ourselves to different viewpoints.
If you are uncomfortable commenting on this public forum, please contact me via e-mail which you can find under Contact Me in the menu.
God bless and I hope you have a good day.
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