Trusting God to Lead and Guide Through Closed and Opened Doors

Picture of a door with text from Revelations 3;8

Sometimes I can spend more time questioning if something is God’s will than actually pursuing it. Granted, it’s good to seek clarity and to bring every thought and passion to Christ for His direction, or redirection, whichever the case may be. But often, when I’m reluctant to move forward, my hesitation comes more from insecurity and a false fear of missing out than patiently waiting on God.

A statement made by a missionary couple nearly a year ago often inspires me to forward progression. They were relatively newly married and had recently sensed God’s call to missions. When I asked them how they discerned God’s will, I expected to hear a list of resources they’d read, conversations they’d held, and divine “aha” moments. Though I have no doubt those things occurred, as God is faithful to confirm His will, their reply reminded me of the power and beauty of obedience.

“A lot of can people get stuck,” Dan Medrano said. “When they don’t know for certain something is God’s will, they won’t move forward. We don’t want to do that. So, if we think God is leading us toward something, we’re going to move forward in faith until He says otherwise. If something’s not of Him, He’ll show us through prayer, Bible reading, the Holy Spirit, and trusted friends.” (Read their full story HERE, page 5.)

I love the child-like trust and full surrender revealed in Dan’s comment: “If we think God is leading us toward something, we’re going to move forward in faith until He says otherwise.”

Dan and his wife relied, completely, on God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. They believed He’d open whatever doors He wanted them to walk through and would close whatever ones He didn’t.

Early in my writing career, as I read God’s promise to the Philadelphian church in Revelations 3:8, I sensed His whisper in my heart, “This is for you as well.”

The verse reads, “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept My Word and have not denied My name” (NIV).

God packed so much encouragement in those two precious sentences. His plans for me aren’t dependent on my strength, which will always be woefully insufficient. Nor will I miss them or mess them up. Rather, I live out His will, in all it’s fullness and at every moment, simply by leaning into Him and continually moving forward, trusting, if I offer my heart completely to Him, He’ll stir it in whatever direction He chooses.

Sitting in that place of full surrender, of total pliability, brings such peace. It reminds us that we don’t have to hear God perfectly. He doesn’t sit up in heaven, waiting to catch us in a misstep. He’s a good, patient, tender-hearted Father who continually walks beside us.

I suggest God receives the same joy watching us grow and explore as we do with our children.

When our daughter was young, she and I often went on “adventure walks.” We were living in a Southern California suburb at the time filled with crisscrossing, winding walking paths and parks less than a half a mile in each direction. Each morning, we ventured on whatever path she chose. I was less concerned with where we landed than each precious moment shared between us. There were times I’d redirect her, like when we neared a busy road or needed to meet friends at the playground. But most of the time, I simply enjoyed walking beside her, hearing her chatter, and watching her eyes light up at every “blow flower” we encountered.

When I get logged down with to-dos and ministry demands, I have to intentionally remind myself that Christ alone is my prize, and I am His. He longs for me—my heart, child-like trust, and my moment-by-moment surrender—more than anything I might do for Him. He wants me to remain pliable. This means, when I’m heading one way and hit a dead end, rather than getting frustrated or trying to force through it, I smile, gaze up at my good, good Father, and placing my hand in His, follow. And when the road ahead looks clouded and I can only see that next step, I lean closer to my Guide, knowing however and wherever He leads will be good.

Because He is good.

Let’s talk about this! What do you tend to value more—God’s guidance for what’s ahead or Him? Your relationship with Him or what you do for Him? How might your stress, anxiety, and uncertainty level change if, moment by moment, you reminded yourself that He alone is your prize and so long as you’re prioritizing Him, everything else will follow.

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When God Says Wait

A while back we talked about times when God says no and trusting in His love even then. This trust rests in our knowledge of His character:

God is good

Good is love

God is faithful, powerful, and sovereign

God is always with us

It’s largely about a change of focus. Will we focus on the closed door or on God and His unchanging nature?

But what about when God says wait? Sometimes I think that is harder than a thousand closed doors! It goes against our “do” nature and pricks at our insecurities. What if we surrender our all, keep walking, and God doesn’t pull through?

Lately, I’ve felt like I’ve wandered into the perpetual waiting room, and it’s easy to assume the not-yets mean no. It’s much harder to keep walking when the road continues to climb, the finish line shrouded from view.

Our faith is tested most, I believe, during times of waiting. The longer the wait, the more faith we’ll need.

For those of you waiting … for a job, an opportunity, a loved one to come to Christ, whatever, stop and meditate on the following passage. Take time to recall the history of each life mentioned and how long they waited.

Psalm 105 (I’ve pulled out the verses that impacted me most, but you can read the entire passage here.):

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts. 
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

When you can’t see the future, spend time recalling the past. Remember God’s goodness, His faithfulness. Most importantly, draw near, focusing on His strength working in you.

He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.

He remembers his covenant forever,
the promise he made, for a thousand generations,
the covenant he made with Abraham,
the oath he swore to Isaac.
10 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant:
11 “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as the portion you will inherit.”

12 When they were but few in number, 
    few indeed, and strangers in it, 

(You can read the full account of each event mentioned by clicking on the following sentences.) God’s promise to Abraham came when he and his wife were old and barren. God’s promise came to Jacob when he was fleeing the wrath of his brother, Esau. Joseph received his divine promise when he was a young man, hated by his brothers. Shortly after he was thrown into a cistern, sold into slavery, and falsely imprisoned. And then there was Moses, a man trained and educated as a prince, later hiding out in Midian ….
13 they wandered from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another.
14 He allowed no one to oppress them;
for their sake he rebuked kings:
15 “Do not touch my anointed ones;
do my prophets no harm.”

16 He called down famine on the land
and destroyed all their supplies of food;
17 and he sent a man before them—
    Joseph, sold as a slave.

To the observer, this would have seen like a step backward. How could these men be chosen people? A great nation? Was this how God treated His own? Why would He allow this famine and Joseph to be sold into slavery? We’re blessed to have the entire account, so we know the answer to all the whys … but Joseph and his father Jacob didn’t. They had to trust and cling tight to what they knew to be true.
18 They bruised his feet with shackles,
his neck was put in irons,
19 till what he foretold came to pass,
till the word of the Lord proved him true.
20 The king sent and released him,
the ruler of peoples set him free.
21 He made him master of his household,
ruler over all he possessed,
23 Then Israel entered Egypt;

Jacob resided as a foreigner in the land of Ham.

While in Egypt, the Israelites were oppressed and enslaved. What happened to God’s promise? I wonder how many gave up hope, how many turned away …. 
26 He sent Moses his servant,
and Aaron, whom he had chosen.

Israel’s redemption didn’t come quickly nor easily. It took centuries for God’s promise to be fulfilled. Centuries of trusting or fretting, surrendering or rebelling, focusing on God and His promises or the obstacles marring their way.
37 He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold,
and from among their tribes no one faltered.

Let’s talk about this!

Are you waiting on God for something? Does it feel like you’ve been waiting for ever? Perhaps so long that you’ve begun to wonder if you’re heading in the wrong direction? Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about perseverance and how we can do that during “the waiting period.”