When God Closes a Door, Does He Open a Window?
We might be surprised to find out what we have taken as the wisdom of God is really dialogue from a musical. In the Sound of Music, Maria wants to be a nun. The Reverend Mother tells her she must first go spend a few months as a governess taking care of seven children. She sees this as an unnecessary diversion and pauses on the way out and says, “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.”
“When God closes a door, He opens a window.” This phrase is most commonly used for reassurance in the face of missed opportunity. When you lose your job because the company is downsizing people say, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” What they mean is that the job wasn’t any good for you anyway and you’re sure to find another job that’s even better.
At face value the statement seems simple and true, but much is left to subjective interpretation. How do I evaluate what’s a door or window and what’s not a door or window? What if there are multiple doors and windows? How do I know who it is that is opening and closing? Isn’t it possible that Satan could be obstructing our path to something and opening a window to something outside the will of God? Isn’t it possible to say that when Satan closes a door, he opens a window? Or when God closes a door, Satan opens a window?
Two other problems with the door/window statement as with much bumper sticker theology are the underlying assumptions and limitations.
One assumption is that God’s goals for us are the same as ours. Therefore, when a path to something we pursue, or desire is closed we just need to do some looking around to find the window to access and achieve our goal.
But we need to understand there is a real possibility a particular desire we want to fulfill is not God’s goal at all and there is no window to be found. It may be outside God’s will for us. The path to fulfilling that desire righteously is closed. Are we now expecting God to open a window for that desire?
A second related assumption is that because God is sovereign, He has infinite ways to get us what we want and where we want to be. And so when He does close a door it’s not that He’s actually saying “no” to us. He’s merely providing an alternate path to our fulfillment.
This idea is read into many verses and Bible stories such as Romans 8:28. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” The idea read in is that since God wants good for us, if something happens to hinder or stop that, He will find a way to make the good thing happen. Again, the problem is our idea of good—achieving our goal—may not be the same as God’s idea of good, which is being like Christ.
Finally, there is the assumption that all the responsibility to close doors and open windows is God’s, and we are to just wait. But there are times when it is our responsibility to close a door to something in our life and to seek out that window whatever that may be. It may be we need to close a door so God can open the window. Also it could be that a door seems closed, but we need to knock for a while or apply some effort before it will open.
The major limitation with this statement is in thinking it is all-encompassing, something to be believed under any and all circumstances. In reality doors do close for good and there is never a window opened. Sometimes a relationship ends and there isn’t another one. There are doors in Scripture that at one point are open but then are closed and there is no window. When God closed the door of the ark there was no other opened or a window for an unbelieving world. Jesus, who called Himself “The Door,” foresaw a day when lost people would try to enter yet be unable to do so because it will be too late. The one door of salvation will be forever closed to them (Matthew 25:11).
Our assurance as believers is that God has a plan and a purpose for us, and He is constantly working behind the scenes in every circumstance in our life to further that plan. We need to remember it is His plan, not ours. So living as Christians isn’t about us making our plans and going through the doors and windows of our design to accomplish what we desire. It is about submitting to God’s will and purposes for us and seeking first His kingdom. As we pursue those things, God provides along the way what He deems best according to His plan. He will always provide a way to do His will.
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