Closed doors are an inevitable part of our Christian journey. We do not ordinarily ask God to close doors, rather we ask Him to open doors. God is as much about open doors as He is about closed doors.
The Book of Acts narrates the missions Paul embarked on in his quest to convert souls. Acts 16:6-8 - “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.”
On his journey to spread the gospel throughout the nations, Paul, with presumably good and pure intentions, was stopped by the Holy Spirit. Like Paul, we often make plans, we prepare and set off on what appears to be a good path, only to encounter a closed door.
After receiving instructions not to proceed to Asia, Paul and his men, sought to enter Bithynia; scripture states, the “Spirit did not permit them.” The Holy Spirit forbade Paul to preach the Word in Asia, so he redirected his course to the next nearest place. Encountering a closed door is not cause to enter the nearest open door. Though Paul’s intentions were justified, God did not permit him to proceed into Bithynia.
Sometimes we think we know what a closed door means; we think we may understand God’s plan for a momentary delay. God is focused on the big picture. He always has a reason for the closed door, though He may not make that reason evident immediately. (Deut. 29:29).
We have faith in a Sovereign God. His sovereignty allows Him to act in ways that we may not comprehend. It is not our job to understand God, for our finite mind may not be able to grasp his plan; we are only asked to trust Him. (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Paul had a plan, a noble plan, but he allowed God to direct his steps. Like Paul, we have a limited view of God’s plan. We must be led by the Spirit of God in our dealings. The Spirit of God may sometimes lead you to places you did not intend to go or to places you may not want to be. Acts 16:8 – “So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.” Troas was not in the original plan. Perhaps, you’ve found yourself in Traos, a place you didn’t intend to be; a destination or closed door you didn’t anticipate. Despite the discomfort and frustration, seek to emulate Paul and follow the leading of the Spirit. Today’s closed door might be tomorrow’s open door. Be sensitive, be discerning.
Acts 16:9 – 10, Paul has a vision and receives instructions as to the course to take; His obedience ultimately led to the very first conversion of a European. Though Paul had Asia in his sight, God needed him in Europe. Asia was not a permanently closed door; it simply was not the right time based on God’s plan.
Paul had come to an understanding of how God operated; rather than invest time in futility trying to open a door that God had closed, Paul waited, listened and obeyed.
Paul could have insisted on continuing the journey despite God’s instructions. While God is sovereign, He permits man to have free will. The onus is on us to decide whether we will submit our will to His. Insisting on our ways and plans may lead to an open door that will bring about things that may have destructive consequences. (Gen 2:15-16)
Our best intentions and plans may not always be in line with God’s plan and as such we may find ourselves at a closed door. 2 Samuel 7:1-3, “after the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” 3 Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”
David received approval and confirmation from Nathan to proceed with his plan, however, in 2 Samuel 7:4 onward, God instructed Nathan to stop David’s plans to build the temple. Despite the closed door that presented itself, David maintained a positive attitude; he did not respond grudgingly; he worshiped God then prepared for Solomon to complete the assignment. What is your disposition when God blocks your plans? May we strive to be as gracious as David when we face a closed door.
The walk of faith is not a short journey. On this journey we will encounter closed doors. While some doors are closed by God for a purpose, sometimes the enemy closes doors. (1 Thessalonians 2:18). It takes grace, an intimate relationship with God to know who is behind your closed door.
God closes doors for our benefit; when He closes doors, He’s ordering our steps. As children of God we know that all things – closed doors, semi-closed doors, open doors, delays, all work together for our good. Don’t be quick to pick up the hammer to open the door; God may be saving you from things that may destroy you.
Trust in His ways, submit to His will and have faith.