“And then God opened a door for me and I met “The One” and I was truly blessed and…

…everyone lives happily ever after? 

Do you ever get the urge to slap christians for speaking like this? i most definitely do!

Sometimes i just want to slap christians on the head. And sometimes i realise the well-meaning christian needing a slap might just be me.

Cos i might not use those particular words but i’m pretty sure there is other jargonese [like the word ‘christianese’ – urgh – SLAP!] that i slip into that makes other friends of mine want to slap me on the head.

And probably not just other christians either…

Hermann, who sometimes writes racist-sounding-comments on my blog, thinks i use the term ‘blown away’ too much:

You tend to use the phrase, “blown away” a lot. Every time I read it, I think of you being blown away like a feather – it implies that you are not very grounded. It sounds very cliched – used a lot by Christians. It may also have other meanings – lets not go there..

He wasn’t too fond of my use of the word ‘intentional’ either:

You use the word “intentional” a lot. Everything everyone does is intentional. By saying this, you imply that the rest of us act as zombies with no free will. If for example I spend R200 on a bottle of whiskey, it is my intention. If I give it to the poor, it is my intention. Everything we all do is always intentional so no need to mention it.

Hermann is quite direct when it comes to suggesting the way forward for me in this regard:

Please get those words out of your blog.

Well, at least he did say “please”. [Although do you think it was intentional?]

OPEN DOORS? OR CLOSED DOORS AND OPEN WINDOWS? 

door

i think this may be one of the ones that gets to me. listening christian types talking about God opening a door for them when it comes to being accepted into college or getting funds for a short-term missions trip or starting a relationship with someone.

i don’t think i’ve ever heard someone tell a story about going to the shops… “And then God opened a door for me as I saw a hungry person sitting outside of the store and knew that God was telling me to ask them what they wanted for lunch and I went in and bought them a meal with my own money.”

i HAVE heard quite a number of people tell me stories about buying people they meet in the street lunch, but i can’t recall any of those ever being a ‘God opened a door for me’ story.

Maybe that’s just cos all of those stories are simple obedience stories – doing what God already opened many doors for us to do when He shared His will with us [much of which i cover in this post on The Will of God]

SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR GOD TO OPEN A DOOR FOR US THEN?

Well, i’m not sure that He does.

i tend to find more stories in the Bible of God closing doors.

i think of Balaam and the donkey [Numbers 22]

i am reminded of David wanting to build the temple for God [2 Samuel 7]

James and John’s mom trying to strike a deal with Jesus for them to be able to sit at His left and right hand side when He is king [Matthew 20]

and i’m sure there are more and i’m sure other people could name a bunch of stories that they think are clear illustrations that God DOES in fact open doors and how could i be so stupid as to think otherwise. But i am less concerned with that right now.

The story i really DO like on this topic though [yes, Hermann who scribes racist thoughts, it blows my mind!] is this one, which can be found intentionally in Acts 16:

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 

What is interesting is that there is no real commentary on the story and so we have to kinda fill in the blanks a little. But what it LOOKS like is that Paul and his companions tried to do a bunch of stuff.

They tried to preach the word in the province of Asia – but the Holy Spirit stopped them somehow [gut feel? word of prophecy? hint or a nudge?]

They tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.

What i absolutely LOVE about this story is that the whole Trinity seems to get involved to make sure it happens right.

We don’t know why God stopped them, but they try a bunch of stuff and He does.

And then maybe the most hysterical part of the whole story is the fact that the “Yes” comes while Paul is sleeping. [so i guess this whole story could be interpreted the complete opposite way as in Paul was doing a bunch of stuff and God needed to slow him down and then stop him completely before He was able to tell Paul what He wanted him to do].

But i like the idea of Paul trying something – door closes. Paul tries something else – another door closes. Paul keeps on trying stuff [and it’s important to note the “stuff” he is trying is “kingdom stuff” – he’s not just farting into a sock here] and the doors keep on closing. Finally God speaks to Paul clearly and Paul obeys.

Does God open doors? Kind of, i think, but not so much in the way we like to talk about it:

i want a child, but we can’t fall pregnant – could an open door be the thousands of parentless babies desperate for a family who will take them in and call them their own?

i want a girlfriend, but the girl i like doesn’t like me back – could an open door be finding contentment in singleness for the moment and taking advantage of everything that goes with that?

i want to know God’s will for my life – might an open door be the homeless shelter just three blocks away from your house that is looking for volunteers, the local prison ministry looking for people who will write letters to inmates and simply be their friends, the old peoples’ home that is desperate for young [and older] people who will come and have conversations or play games or read stories to their people?

So many open doors, so little time…

And surely, the God we serve is big enough to close a door if we are earnestly heading for a wrong one?[even if He has to pull in the other members of the Trinity to do so!]

Let’s stop waiting for open doors and start living obediently.

i remember a prayer Keith Green’s wife Melody challenged her audience to pray after one particular talk:

[1] God, i will go anywhere You want me to go

[2] God, i will do anything You want me to do

If you want to see doors open quickly, that is a dangerous and liberating prayer to pray as you start each new day. Especially if you mean it.

What are your thoughts on the whole ‘Open Door’ vibe? 

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