Are open doors "God doors"?

"It's obvious that God wants me in this business, and I'm going to put everything I have into it. After all, it's growing, so God is blessing it."

"I know we're going to move away from our friends and faith community, but I'm certain it's God's will, since he opened the door on such a good deal on a house and property in the country."

These are quotes from people who have explained to me why they were doing something that I thought was detrimental to their spiritual welfare. "The door is open, so it must be God's will that I walk through it."


It's a common way of thinking. But is it a good one? Is every open door a "God door"?

No.

If an open door by itself were a reliable indicator of God's leading, we would have to explain the many "open doors" leading to great temptation and moral compromise. Many have walked through open doors into embezzlement, illicit affairs, and much more. These things certainly are not of God.

But what about more innocent things? Some folks use this reasoning to rationalize what they have already decided to do. But not all. Some are sincerely seeking God's leading. And it's not necessarily wrong to want a business to succeed, or to have a home in the country. It may be wrong if it's done out of selfish motivations, but it isn't always. Nor is it wrong to have a deep longing to serve God.

I have been involved for more than three years with an Asian refugee population where we live. It has been, for the most part, a pleasure. But I have also noticed a spiritual emptiness among many of the people, and have prayed much for God to work among them, to pour out his Spirit on them and bring new life. And I have told God I am willing to be an instrument of that happening, if that is his choice.

Recently, I was approached by the pastor of a church where a number of these folks had settled. Would I come there and work among the refugees, helping to build a ministry and community there for them? "We're delighted they're with us, but we have no idea what to do with them."

My first response was negative. No way. Not at that church. I've tasted that flavor, and didn't like it. Find someone else.

But though I didn't like the idea, I had to consider whether was this God, opening a door to using me to fulfill his purpose for these people? It seemed like a possibility.

I prayed. I asked God for wisdom and discernment. I asked others to pray. And I went to some friends in the refugee community, told them what was being asked of me, and sought their opinion: Should I go or not?

Unanimously, they said to go. They all said they would be happy for me to join them at the church.

So I told the pastor I would, as he requested, visit and see "if God speaks" to me. One time.

I went, with my wife and three Asian friends. None of us liked it. In fact, five of us went, and five of us did not want to return. No neutrality.

So now what? What was God saying? The door was open, but was it God who opened it?

I decided that it was unfair for decide something important based on one exposure. So we went again. And I met with the "ministry staff." And the women's missionary group was told about me. All positive. All excited that I was joining them.

Now, despite my initial response, and my continuing apprehension, I was starting to get a little interested. Maybe this really was God at work. After all, I didn't have to look far to see examples of God moving his people into places of discomfort and difficulty.

So we attended several times a week for perhaps six weeks. Watching. Listening. Praying.

I began to see things that would be problems. Beliefs I didn't agree with. Demands that I teach this or that material.

So now, here I am. Am I hearing God? Perhaps. But what is he saying? Is he saying "This is the place where I want you"? Or is he saying to go elsewhere?

An open door. It certainly seemed like it was open, and still does. But is it God's open door? Or is it a distraction?

It's an important principle: Just because a door is open doesn't mean God opened it. It might be exactly the opposite.

How do we know?

Pray. Pray some more. Ask others to pray, as well. Go slowly. "Follow your peace."

And don't be afraid to say you missed God or misunderstood what he might be saying. Nobody infallibly hears God. Not me. Not you.

And so I wait and I pray. I look at open doors. And I ask God to close the ones that he didn't open.

Incidentally, the businessman from the quote above has totally walked away from God, and is now consumed with his business. The person moving to the country has been there over two years and has found no spiritual home.

8 Comments

Hi Larry,

You just had to write about this topic at a time when my husband and I are faced with this very question. "Is this from God?" :)

We are praying hard and seeking guidance and prayers from others whose wisdom we highly regard. Although the situation is very private (PM me on FB if you would like to know more), moving forward could radically change our lives. I have peace only in the truth that at the end of the day, God is in control. My heart keeps telling me that it is better to say "yes" to God - even if it means radically altering our lives as we know it than to say "no" because we're too afraid of the 'what if's' or the unknowns. Like you, J.B. and I are praying that if this situation is not from God that He would be gracious in closing the door.

In all sincerity, I really appreciate you and this forum. Once again, you've given me something to think about. :)

Hello Norah,

Thanks for the comments. I think the difficult part sometimes isn't knowing God's will, so much as it is doing it. Too often we are paralyzed by fear of making a mistake, and so we avoid a decision. But that's the biggest mistake of all. Better to follow what we think is most likely God's voice, and trust that he will prevent us from some terminally serious crash or mistake. God's interest is not that we have perfect obedience, because he knows too well the difficulty we sometimes have in knowing what obedience requires. God is interested more in our heart and whether it is his. I pray that God would reveal both his will in your situation and the profound and joyous love he has for you in every situation.

I heartily agree that every door is not necessarily a God door. I've had to pray about many "opportunities" over the years, and God has always made it clear to me if I waited on Him. Someone gave me a wall plaque I hung in my little office space that reads: "If God wants you to go He has a place for you... If God wants you to stay He'll have the grace for you." I've learned to be content where ever He leads me. I appreciate your thoughts and comments... thanks for sharing them with me.

Bill

I needed to hear those words right now.

Be blessed!!!

I am at that same point right now. I have taught over 20 years within the Christian schools. This past year, the church that housed the school split and I decided to resign when the year ended. I thought that there was another school opening in the area. However, the person leading this new school left and the whole thing is in shambles. There are still people trying very hard to keep this new Christian school open. I am applying at every child care center and other place that advertises for a job,but there are just no openings for an older teacher like me. It breaks my heart to see all my teaching stuff and knowing I probably will never teach in a Christian school again. In my state, I would have to go back and get extensive schooling to teach in a public school. I have my teaching certificate,but my state requires additional schooling. I just helped to put my two kids through college and have loans to pay back. One of the biggest reasons why I don't want to teach at the new school is that if I get hired there, another friend of mine will be deeply hurt as she is trying to get in to the school as well and there are few openings there for teachers. I pray every day for God's Will to be done. My husband is pushing me to accept the job at the school as he is worried about how to pay our bills. What do you do when the only open door is not a sure thing?? I am just praying and seeking the Lord.....

LM,

Thanks for your comment. You're in a tough spot, and I don't envy you, though I know too well how it feels. You ask what to do, and I think you answered your own question:pray and seek the Lord. For me, I check out apparently open doors, and the first step is to know what I feel in my spirit about the door. Am I at peace about it? Am I excited about it? (Peace and excitement are not incompatible.) Does it seem like God's doing? (I am not as concerned with what others might think at this point.) Mostly, I try to be sensitive to what's going on in me as I seek God: Am I at peace, or is there turmoil in a specific case.

Don't give up. God is always faithful.

jesus is lord

LORD, You know that I have been waiting months for you to bless me with the amount of money that I have been asking for. LORD, you are my only source ...

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  • KELLY COOL said:
      LORD, You know that I have been waiting months for you to bless me wit...
  • samuel anang aryee said:
      jesus is lord...
  • Larry Baden said:
      LM, Thanks for your comment. You're in a tough spot, and I don't envy...
  • LM said:
      I am at that same point right now. I have taught over 20 years within ...
  • Norah said:
      I needed to hear those words right now. Be blessed!!!...
  • Bill said:
      I heartily agree that every door is not necessarily a God door. I've h...
  • Larry Baden said:
      Hello Norah, Thanks for the comments. I think the difficult part some...
  • Norah said:
      Hi Larry, You just had to write about this topic at a time when my hu...

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