If there was one fallacy that I would want to jump up and down to warn you about, it would be the myth of the open and closed doors. Countless times I have sat across from a woman who has told me that she is taking a job, or moving to a new city, or enrolling her child in a certain school “because God opened a door.” This is so common a thought process among Christians that you would think that there’s a verse somewhere in the Bible that says, “If a door is open, thou shalt walk through it.”
The reality is that this reasoning can sometimes be true, but only partially true. God certainly does move in ways that create opportunities. But to follow this train of logic would mean that any opportunity is from God and any adversity is a “closed door.” Because something is difficult, that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong thing to do. Likewise, because something is easy, that doesn’t mean it’s God’s best for us.
Early in our ministry, a church in Ohio contacted Chris and asked him to consider coming to be their Small Groups and Education Pastor. We had no desire to move to Ohio, but we decided that we owed it to them to pray about it. The prayers led to Chris sensing that we should at least be open enough to go visit. Chris was in his second year of his PhD, we had a one year old and had just found out that we were expecting another child. Nothing made sense about this opportunity.
Forty-eight hours before we were to leave, Chris came down with a stomach bug. Twenty-four hours later, I went down with it. We called my mom and asked her to come care for Mark because we were both feeling so puny. Everything screamed “closed door.” By the time our departure day rolled around, we were holding food down and felt well enough to travel part of the way there. Exhausted, we arrived at our hotel late that night. As we slid the key into the hotel room door in Elizabethtown, KY, Mark started vomiting all over the place. Closed door!! Surely, God was telling us “No.” Or was He? Perhaps it was spiritual opposition? Or perhaps it was simply a stomach bug that was going around in this fallen world? We may never know.
The point is this: we cannot use circumstances to make our decisions. A fabulous visit to a college campus does not mean that is where God wants you. Even financial aid alone is not enough to validate it being God’s plan. God wants us to seek Him, and His plan is what’s best for us. When we use circumstances alone to determine our next move, we are accidentally removing God from the equation. We can even feel spiritual by saying, “God, if this is not what You want, please close this door.” The blunt truth is that God is not obligated to stop us from going ahead of Him. He longs for us to seek Him, wait on Him, and trust Him… but He will not force us to do so.
Close the door on using “open and closed door” language… and join me next time for some great truths to help you in your decision making!