Recently, I've been hearing in pastoral conversations and reading on social media comments along the following lines:
"When God closes a door, He opens another"
"If God shuts a door, stop banging on it"
"Until God opens the next door for you, praise Him in the hallway"
These phrases are meant to offer reassurance and encouragement when life takes unexpected turns or when things don't turn out the way we plan. I have even found myself using similar lines from time to time when responding to someones disappointment. While they are well meaning, are they true? Do they provide a correct biblical representation of God? What do they say about the choices we and others make along the way? How well do they position us to discover God's will?
The idea that God opens and closes doors suggests to me that God is someone who can lead us down pathways that are either the wrong destination or a dead end. This could imply that God doesn't know what He is doing, thus denying His sovereignty. Or, if God is indeed sovereign, it could infer that He is testing us or toying with us. None of which align with a biblical image of God.
Consider this alternative view of God, as revealed in Scripture, not on social media. It may seem less comforting according to our pop-theology, but a biblical theology is a far more solid foundation to pursue God's purpose for our lives.
God doesn't open or close doors, He is the door.
Jesus declared, "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and will find pasture" (John 10:9). What an interesting two sided statement. The first part affirms what we know about Jesus, He is "the WAY" to God. The second part references our response to "the WAY". Jesus doesn't open multiple doors for us to choose from or for Him to change, but is "the DOOR" for us to choose whether or not to remain in Him (a point later expounded in John 15). Combine this thought with the rest of the passage: "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:14). It is only when we enter through "the DOOR" and remain in "the DOOR" that we can truly come to know the Shepherd and recognise His voice from counterfeit voices outside "the DOOR" that will try and lure us through other doors.
I wonder if the confusion over other doors is more to with the amount of time we spend inside "the DOOR" listening to the voice of the Shepherd whose role is to guide, protect and provide for His sheep? In this space it is easier to discern and decide which doors to open and close in our lives when we engage in the world outside of "the DOOR".
Maybe it is not God who opens and closes doors. Maybe it is through "the DOOR" that we are given divine wisdom to discern the will of God in order to open and close the right doors ourselves as we pursue His purpose for our lives. Just a thought.