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
4 thoughts on “Open door? Or still small voice?”
The issue I’ve found is, how do you tell the difference between an open door, a closed door that God wants you to open – with maybe some persistence, a closed door that God doesn’t want you to go through, or a good door but not God’s door? Years ago I read a great book called “Decision Making and the Will of God” by Garry Friesen and another guy whose name I don’t recall at present – Robin someone I think. It looked at the flaws in the “God has a perfect plan for your life” theology – If God does have a plan for us, how specific is it? Why do we pray about who to marry and what job to get, and where to live, but not about what socks to wear? How do we determine when God’s plan starts and when it stops? – and offered another one.
Their thesis was that God is so much bigger than us that He doesn’t need to have a specific plan for each of us. His power is so unfathomable that we can freely do what we want, yet still be within His plan. We can’t go outside His sovereign will, and as long as we don’t go outside His moral will, we can, in the words of Augustine, “Love God and do what you will”; or something along those lines.
Really interesting, Troy. Thanks for your comments. I think I agree with you. I’m gonna talk this over with my man and get his thoughts too!
I agree that predestination of one’s salvation doesn’t necessitate predetermination of every little choice that we make in life. I don’t know exactly where the line is, but I am grateful that I can come boldly before His throne so that I can obtain mercy and find help in time of need. 🙂
There’s also something special to be said about living each day for God and being comfortable not knowing what will happen in our lives, such as marriage, where to live, what to do for Christmas this year. We can get much too distracted planning, the planning becomes a branch to God, who is at the top of the tree. (Matthew 6:31-34) When we seek God first to know Him more and be like Him, He becomes our fulfillment and we get to the point where we don’t NEED marriage and don’t seek it out fervently like it’s what we were made to do; then, He will grant us the right person. (at least that’s what happened for me 😉
That’s a great analogy and a great post. Thanks for commenting!
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