a devotional by Justin Camacho
Two of the most frequently used words in our Christian vernacular are “open door” and “closed door.” An “open door” generally means that God has provided the needs for a given situation and has given you the go ahead to proceed and do whatever you got to do. On the flip side, a “closed door” means no. Wham. Bam. Slam. Right in the face. Do not proceed.
But I’m sure we can all agree that as we’ve matured in our faith, a lot of things aren’t so black and white, and this issue is no exception. Closed doors don’t always mean we can’t proceed. In fact, walking through them can mean an even greater opportunity to show God’s glory.
This makes me think of Moses. In Exodus 3, we have the story of the Burning Bush. Up until this point, Moses had spent decades in Midian after fleeing from Egypt when he killed an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew. Now, God was telling him to go back, and, as if his criminal past in that area wasn’t enough of a disqualification, God wanted him to approach Pharaoh to release the Hebrews from slavery. On top of that, God’s also like “Oh, and by the way, Pharaoh won’t let you.”
If, for just a moment, we take God out of the equation (something our brains generally like to do), literally everything is counted against Moses. He’s going to a place where he could be imprisoned; he has to ask an impossible question to the most powerful man in the nation; and he’s going to get a definitive “No” answer from that person, all adding up to an utterly ridiculous, closed-door situation. If we’re keeping up with the door illustration, Moses is basically standing in front of the entrance to Fort Knox.
But closed doors don’t always mean a closed situation or final decision. I’m not even talking about the cliché “When one door closes, another opens.” It’s honestly way simpler than that, because in real life, when we encounter most closed doors…we just open them. And that’s what God is telling Moses- “That door to Fort Knox is locked- maximum security. But I’m gonna battery ram through it.” See, that’s cool! What an even greater showcase for God’s glory!
Paul is another example of someone who understood this concept. In Acts 20, Paul says to the church elders, “And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.” If this were me, bonds and affliction would no doubt be viewed as a closed door, but Paul still went because of the Spirit. So we see it’s not really about open doors and closed doors. It’s really about whether the Spirit says “Yes” or “No.”
The reality is that we can’t take God out of the equation like we often find ourselves doing. If we get caught up in external circumstances, we run the risk of delaying our obedience, wondering should we or shouldn’t we. Moses fell into that by trying to negotiate with God, listing off all of his disqualifications, but the fact of the matter was that God said go and there was no question about it. And it’s by God’s power that he was able to be obedient.
So the question for us is “how do we know what the Spirit is saying?” I would venture to say in most cases, we already know what we’re supposed to do. We know when we need to share the Gospel with that person. We know when we need to step out and serve. In John 16:13, Jesus says, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” A lot of times, it’s just our focus on doorways that gets in the way of the Spirit. Of course, In certain situations, God does make His will clear through closed doors (like not getting accepted to a certain school, not landing that job). But ultimately, if we get a command to do something, if we have an undeniable burden from the Holy Spirit, nothing should stop us through His power.