open door

Who opens the door, you or God?

“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 new as though I’d never read it before.

My personal copy is so marked up I need to use my newer one but the worn pages and all my scribbled notes appeal to me.

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” as a way to determine a course of action is a ridiculous way to approach decision-making. 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.

open door

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 in our present situation or go in a completely different 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 learning how to blog as an example, all I can say is it felt like a lot of doors had been shut but I kept plugging away anyway because I was sure this was not the case. I kept beating at that closed-door until I finally unlocked it.

locked door

Years ago, my husband was eagerly sought out by a local businessman who wanted him to come and work for him. My husband was leaning strongly to say yes as his current place of employment at the time was undergoing some difficulties. The new offer was also more money. We discussed it and we both felt it was time to move on so my husband accepted the job. An open door, right?

open door

His new employer took us out to dinner that very night. When we got into his car, it was as if 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 person I would characterize as truly “evil”. His demeaning behavior to the wait staff at the restaurant was embarrassing and my husband and I were humiliated by his behavior. What he revealed about his relationship with his family only solidified our fear.

My husband was feeling the exact same way. We kept exchanging glances that said, “Oh, no, what have done?” The minute he dropped us off at our house, my husband and I looked at each other and knew we had made a huge mistake.  No amount of money in the world would make up for working for this man.

That door was shut and we’re the ones who shut it.

And God didn’t open it. 

I can remember that night clearly.We looked at each other knowing that even worse was coming. We were not mistaken.

My husband’s mood sank and eventually, it developed into a full-blown depression. The stress was so great his back went into spasms that continued for months.

As it turned out this man was unethical and my husband eventually reported him to the board of directors. HIs boss was eventually fired but by this time the company was on its way to complete failure. All in all, it was about three years of hell.

Finally, after three months of unemployment (thank goodness, that’s all it was), my husband was hired into his next position at one-third 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. This new position turned out to be the best job he’d ever had. The people were great; the company was great. It was this position that led to international travel and allowed us both to see the world.

We keep this experience alive in our mind always, as a reminder of how easy it is to think that when something looks good, it is good. That when a door is open, it doesn’t mean God has opened it. How many people have been led down a path to destruction because they’ve fallen victim to this line of thinking?

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 reinforce the direction we are taking or put a roadblock in our way.

I’m not suggesting it’s as easy as I make 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.

How God leads is a big subject and 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 the argument could even be made that we did make the right decision because God needed to teach us something. But God is not the author of confusion and that was most definitely a confusing time.

When something “good” comes our way now, when a door seems to open, 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.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.