Have you ever been told that if God wants you to do something, then He will “open a door”? I totally used to buy that. Especially because when I prayed about a problem, it was often along the lines of, “Hey God, I already know what I’d like to do, but I need to check “pray about this” off my To Do list. So if this opportunity arises, I’m gonna take it. Just FYI.” Then the hoped-for “door” would open and I would walk right through.
But after a couple “hastily-walked-through-the-door-only-to-find-that-it-leads-to-a-ten-story-drop-off,” and a few “I-walked-past-the-best-door-because-I-was-distracted-by-the-open-door,” I began to re-think how to get my cues from God. The problem with the “open door” theory is that when the door closed, or things got too hard I would reason “Oh, I guess this isn’t God’s will after all.” And then persuade myself into a more comfortable (but not necessarily more God-honoring) arrangement.
Four years ago God stripped me down to the bare bones of life. He humbled me, and moved our family of five into my gracious mother’s basement. For seven months, we lived out of suitcases waiting for God to show us where we would go next. And in those desperate, lonely months God tutored me on how to hear His voice- a voice that never contradicts or goes against His word, mind you. But one that gives direction, comfort, rebuke and encouragement- often through His word. I began to recognize the still small voice that I would previously override as I looked at what “made sense,” or would sweep away in the face of wise counsel, or would only listen to if it confirmed what I wanted anyway. And while practicality, biblical advice, and our own desires do play a role in decision-making, it wasn’t until I disciplined myself to hear the still small voice that I began to walk through the doors of previously unimagined fullness, adventure, and peace.
Obeying that still small voice sometimes means that I may stand in front of an open door- however beautiful and promising it may be- for days, weeks, or months until God says “OK, you can go in now.” Sometimes I know that I’m supposed to beat down a closed door until it gives way. Sometimes I find myself saying “God said that there should be a door here, but I don’t see one anywhere,” and just waiting. But when God does ask me to cross the threshold, I can be confident that He will lead, provide, and sustain me regardless of the difficulties ahead.
For more on this, see Listening to God in 2013