When plans fail or our dreams don’t come through our friends, family, and church folk, often say “When God closes one door, He opens another”. Many people say it like it’s in the bible. Not only is it not in the Bible it’s also presumptuous. We assume that because something that we want doesn’t happen that God stopped it. That’s like saying “I want your will to be done God”, when what we really mean is “I want you to make sure my will is done God”. I’ve written several posts about God’s will for you, and in none of them do I say that God closes and opens doors. God has given us free will and that allows us to decide to follow His will for us or to do it on our own.
The origin of the saying isn’t really known but it’s similar to a quote from Alexander Graham Bell. He said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
One example in the Bible of open and closed doors is on Paul’s second missionary journey from Antioch:
Acts 16:6-12 (NKJV)6 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.9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis,12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days.
While I said that it’s presumptive to say that God closed a door or prevented our plans from materializing, the statement “When God closes one door, He opens another” is pretty accurate in many cases. I want to emphasize that most disappointments are not caused by God closing a door. He opens a lot of them, but rarely closes them. Sometimes it’s other people, Satan and his demonic forces or us that close the door. In fact, most times it's us. We make a bad decision leaning on our own understanding, listening to our well intentioned friends and family, freaking out, and not waiting for God, That has closed a whole lot of doors.
In my own life, I can admit that I wasted many years following “things” I thought God would be in the midst of, only to learn that is was my own desire that led me there, not the voice of God. There have been other times I missed an open-door opportunity because I was afraid or confused. Again I was operating on my own and not in faith. I probably have no idea of how much time I, my loved ones, and others who depended on me, chasing things outside of God’s will for us.
Open and closed doors are dependent on God’s will for us. Knowing God’s will determines the path to take so we can make the most of our time on Earth. Our choices will have a direct effect on our lives and the lives of our loved ones and others. Walking through the right doors at the right time is serious business and shouldn’t be taken lightly, but rather with prayer and wisdom.
I’ve written and published several posts on finding God’s will for your life. See the God’s Will and God’s Will Versus My Will categories on this blog.
9 Signs That God Is Opening a Door
Editor’s Note: Scriptures added by me
1. Opportunity Backed by Scripture
One major aspect of discerning an open door is recognizing whether it will line up to Scripture. Quite simply, the Lord will not “bless” you by giving you the opportunity to sin or contradict His word. Chances are, if your open door causes you to act according to the fruit of the flesh described in Galatians 5:19-21, this is not from God. So, if you get a chance to rob a bank or aggressively confront someone who has hurt you, it is very likely that the Holy Spirit is not leading you to do so.
Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV)19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
2. Answered Prayer
If you’ve been praying specifically, this upcoming opportunity may be an answer to your prayer. Many times, we pray for something, but when God brings the manifestation, we begin to doubt. The truth is God responds to the prayers of His children. We must know that if we are seeking the Lord for one of His promises towards us, He certainly can answer. Remember, nothing is impossible for God!
1 John 5:14-15 (ESV)14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Proverbs 10:22 (ESV)22 The blessing of the LORD makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.
3. Confirmation from Wise Counsel
Proverbs 11:14 reminds us that victory is won through the advice of many counselors.
Proverbs 11:14 (ESV)14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
If you are unsure if this next opportunity is from God, seek a person who operates in wisdom. When you do so, they will be able to recognize possible conflicts without the emotional attachment. Although you should not be vulnerable with everyone, pray that God will highlight a person you can confide in.
God sends people into our lives for many reasons, and in many cases, it is in response to a need we have — whether it’s now, or yet to come. No relationship happens in the Kingdom of God by circumstance or without reason, whether it’s to provide friendship, help us through a season of difficulty, provide wisdom or inspire us to stand strong in our faith when we feel weak and unsure.
Throughout Scripture we are instructed to choose our friends wisely, because with godly friends comes godly wisdom — just when we need it most.
Psalm 1:1-4 (ESV)1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
4. Discomfort in Your Current Situation
If you are experiencing a high level of discomfort in your current situation, this open door may be God’s opportunity to release you from your peril. This does not mean that discomfort is a sign you're in the wrong place. God uses struggle and suffering to sharpen and refine us, and birth something new.
But sometimes, we hold on tightly to situations that are destructive. In our quest to “not give up,” we stand in God’s way when he provides a way of escape. Much like the story of Joseph, we have to be willing to move from the prison to the palace. We have to be willing to allow God to transition us into our new thing. Remember, when God is calling you to release something it is not defeat, but victory!
5. Opportunities You Didn’t Ask for
There are times when God blesses you and you don’t see it coming. Your obedience, giftings and humble spirit simply opened doors that you didn’t have to ask for. Consider the story of Saul found in 1 Samuel 9. Though he never asked to be king, God saw fit for him to walk in a new anointing. Some open doors are so huge that if you knew ahead of time you would allow doubt and your personal insecurities to sabotage your open door.
Throughout the Bible, we see that the Lord speaks in dreams. It’s in these moments where we cannot object or stand in the way that God can minister to our hearts. From showing me my future children to my current ministry, the Lord gave me dreams to confirm what he was doing. Rather than dismissing your dreams as random thoughts of the day, keep a journal and write out what you can recall in the morning. The Lord may be speaking about your next opportunity, you just may be too distracted to perceive it. Much like God put Adam to sleep before creating his greatest gift, God may use your resting time to birth a new plan in you.
Job 33:14-15 (ESV)14 For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds,
If your open door is a blessing to many around you, it may be from the Lord. This can be tricky at times. I’ve come to learn that not every good idea is a “God-idea” no matter how many people may benefit from it. Nonetheless, God-given opportunities can have a positive ripple effect for other people. We are called to be a blessing to others. When we do so, this brings glory to the God we represent. Take a moment to evaluate how walking through this door will positively or negatively affect others.
Proverbs 11:25 (ESV)25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
8. It Brings Peace
When the Lord brings a new opportunity, it should not be full of confusion. Though you may face opposition here and there from the enemy, you can still have peace. One of my favorite sayings is, “Let God’s peace be your guide.” In other words, when you are moving in the direction God is calling you into, you will find that you can face opposition with confidence, knowing that God is in charge of your path.
Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
9. Confirmed through Prayer
Although there are many ways to know if God is speaking, hearing His voice overrides them all. There will be some doors God will have you walk through that go against conventional wisdom or patterns. I challenge you to not run from these opportunities but seek the Lord in prayer. The more we are connected to God in prayer, the easier it will be to hear His voice with precision. Ultimately, it will be His voice that will illuminate the paths that you need to take. All other opportunities, no matter how great they may initially seem, may simply be a distraction for your life.
Psalm 32:8-9 (ESV)8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
Lord, Thank You For The People You Have Divinely Placed In My Life Who Speak Holy Truth, Love And Words Of Wisdom. Give Me A Heart Of Discernment To Know When You Are Using Someone To Speak Instruction Into My Heart And My Circumstances, And Give Me The Strength And Courage To Follow Through With That Advice, Even When It’s Hard. Fill Me With Peace In Knowing That Even If I Take A Wrong Turn, Your Purpose Will Prevail. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.