Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The open and shut door

Christian's love to use the phrase "open door." They use it like this: "God opened the door." Have you heard someone use this terminology? Have you used it yourself?
I am guilty of making life decisions based on this open door policy. A solution to a problem will seem to present itself naturally or an unlikely occurrence will present an opportunity, and I see it as God's hand guiding me towards action. Looking back on times when I have made decisions based on this principle I am hard pressed to find a circumstance where the easy, natural, pain-free move was really, in the end, the best one. More often than not, God's guidance has seemed to come in the form of closed (sometimes slammed) doors.
Getting engaged (my open door) and then having to call it off (God slamming it shut).
Moving to Florida for a doctor (my open door) and having my condition worsen (God slamming it shut).
I could lay out more examples but I'm sure you get the point. I made decisions that I thought were in obedience to God. I wasn't trying to be defiant or rebellious, I was trying to walk through the open doors!
How do we know when God has opened a door that he wants us to walk through? Is every open door an invitation to come inside, or are there times God wants us to see the open door and take another path? Are there times we are to wait outside, maybe only to enter later or to never enter at all?
Basing decisions off of this principle can get confusing. As Christians we want to live according to God's will but we don't have a print out of what that will is. God doesn't send us a detailed memo outlining what is to come next and what move we are to make to stay within the plan he has prepared. Sometimes open doors feel like the closest thing to a road map. We desperately want a flashing sign with right and left arrows, merge signs and my favorite the "chevron" sign. In God's language I'm not sure what a chevron sign would indicate. I suppose I'll never have to worry about deciphering that meaning because God doesn't direct his children using black and yellow signage. He doesn't lay it out in yellow, red and green lights (although that would be helpful, and easily interpreted!).
Maybe God doesn't want us to be so concerned about the directions.
This seems to go against everything our human nature yearns for. We want answers. We want to know what is coming next. We want to be useful and productive. We want to accomplish things. So we must make decisions based on our best guess, right? We must scan every door and run through whichever one is open because we must do something! Heaven forbid we rest!
But God doesn't want us to be on the hunt for an open door. He wants us to be more concerned with opportunity... the opportunity to study his word, fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, serve God, spread the gospel, share the message of Jesus Christ's gift of salvation....
When we are busy looking for the next open door our days become reduced to a game of LIFE. Instead of enjoying where we are at and soaking up what this day has to offer we start looking ahead to the possibilities that lie ahead. If we roll a 2 where will we end up? If we roll a 6 will that get us a ranch house or a new job? Our days become reduced to weighing the options of what lies behind each door.
God doesn't intend for our days to be played out like a board game. He hasn't given us a couple of dice, allowing us to roll out our own futures. He wants us to be content with doing our best for him today, letting tomorrow play out in his timing, according to his will.
God wants us to be useful for him today, right where we are at. He wants us to be scanning the horizon for opportunities to further his kingdom and get to know him more intimately. He wants us to pour our hearts into becoming more obedient and more Christ-like.
When we train our hearts and minds to focus on Christ and be looking towards him in all our days we won't feel the need to be constantly scanning all the doors that pop up along our path. Some will be shut and dead bolt locked shut. Others will be wide open. But if we are steadfast in looking to Jesus we won't even notice. We won't see life as a series of open or shut doors. We will see life as an ongoing journey in getting to know our Savior on a deeper, more intimate level.

A well known song says it best...

...."All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing you, Jesus
Knowing you, there is no greater thing
You're my all, you're the best
You're my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord

Now my heart's desire is to know you more
To be found in you and known as yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All-surpassing gift of righteousness

Oh, to know the power of your risen life
And to know You in Your sufferings
To become like you in your death, my Lord
So with you to live and never die"....

~ "Knowing you Jesus" by Graham Kendrick 

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