I learned two new things I often incorrectly assume about ‘doors’ this week. First, that we Christians (especially in the West) assume God opens and closes them and we can rest secure in ordering our steps according to these “open doors,” but that’s not necessarily true. Second, that we often ascribe the verse about “God standing at the door of our heart, knocking” to the door of the heart of the unbeliever; Jesus waiting to be let in. That also, is not necessarily true.
This post will discuss the first “ah ha”: An open door does not mean God opened it.
I am reading “Tempted and Tried” by Russell Moore. In a chapter called “Slaughterhouse Drive” (about how cows are mercifully and calmly lead to their unexpected and painless death) there is this disturbing news:
You are being watched. The demonic powers have had millenia to observe human nature. . . . The spiritual powers out there are expert cosmic farmer-ranchers and are customizing a temptation plan that fits with the way your desires, particularly, work. They notice what turns your head, what quickens your pulse. Like the Roman guard feeling around, with a spike in one hand, on the Lord Jesus’ arm, seeking his vein under the skin, the demonic beings are marking out your weak points, sizing you up to that they might crucify you. They’ll find what you want and give it to you. . . Sometimes Christians make decisions based on opportunities come open. In our spiritual lingo we often talk about “open doors” and “closed doors” and “seeing where God is at work” in circumstances, as evidence of God’s leading us to do something or other. There’s a sense in which that’s wisdom, observing the situation around us in order to make a decision. But sometimes people will assume the “open doors” in their lives are all signals to go forward. How could it not be right when everything seems to be fitting together perfectly? But what if something wicked is just ahead of you, opening those doors for you, right down to the chambers of hell?
In looking back on my life I can see how this is so true. I grew up in a church where people were often heard to say “where God closes a door, He opens a window.” And I grew up believing circumstances such as opportunities landing in my lap, or plans abruptly interrupted were “signs” that I should walk this way or that. Looking back I see many “open doors” I walked through blindly…and right into a snare or deep, dark pit. Like the open door in the back of the wardrobe that is so difficult to be found again from the side of Narnia, the pit is hard to crawl out of…
This is not a word of gloom and doom, but hearkening to the wisdom of the author of the book cited above, to Proverbs, and to Christ Himself who clearly tells us that He is “sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
I must not forget I am not excused from the wrestling mat. If I am to follow Christ I must be a discerning disciple of His word and how to practically apply it (“study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”), I must put on the whole armor required for spiritual warfare, I am not to dismiss or minimize the determination of the enemy to keep me ineffective for the Kingdom (at the minimum) and destroy me (at the heart of the liar’s plan).
In this country we do so much in solitude and too little in community. Wrestling with cosmic powers of evil and engaging in spiritual warfare are not activities I wish to do alone. Pray for each other, confess to one another, encourage one another, bear one another’s burdens, speak the truth to one another in love: “We are better together,” especially in battle.