God Can Use a “Wrong Door” to Shape a Right Heart
by John Ortberg
In the New Testament, James says that if any of us lacks wisdom, we should ask God for some. He doesn’t say we should ask which door to go through but for the tools to choose wisely.
God’s primary will for your life is not the achievements you accrue; it’s the person you become. God’s primary will for your life is not what job you ought to take; it’s not primarily situational or circumstantial. It’s not mainly the city where you live or whether you get married or what house you ought to be in. God’s primary will for your life is that you become a magnificent person in his image, somebody with the character of Jesus. That is God’s main will for your life. No circumstance can prevent that.
We all understand that, especially parents. If you’re a parent, would you want the kind of kids you have to tell their whole lives, “Wear these clothes. Take these classes. Go to that school. Apply for this job. Marry that person. Purchase this house,” and you always have them do exactly what you tell them as long as they live? (“No” is the correct answer here. No, you wouldn’t want that.)
Why? Because your main goal is not for them to be little robots that carry out instructions; your goal is that they become people of great character and judgment. The only way for them to do that is to make lots and lots of decisions. Of course, that means they’ll make a lot of the wrong decisions. That becomes a primary way they learn.
Very often God’s will for you will be “I want you to decide,” because decision making is an indispensable part of character formation. God is primarily in the character-forming business, not the circumstance-shaping business.
And God is in the open-door business. This means a new way of looking at God. He prefers yes to no. He loves adventure and opportunity.
This means a new way of looking at life. I do not have to be afraid of failure. I do not have to live in fear over circumstance. Each moment is an opportunity to look for a door that opens up into God and his presence.
This means a new way of looking at myself. I am no longer limited by my smallness and weakness. The God who opens the door to me is also the God who knows how small and weak I am.
This means a new way of choosing. I no longer have to live under the tyranny of the perfect choice. God can use even what looks like the “wrong door” if I go through it with the right heart.
Our lives are filled with doors.
Perhaps you are facing graduation. According to one recent survey, more than anything else, young adults want to work at a job that inspires them and that offers autonomy. You want to follow your bliss, but maybe your bliss hasn’t shown up yet.
Maybe you are in transition. People are changing jobs, companies, and whole careers more often than ever before. How do you choose wisely?
Maybe you are in a rut. Your life is safe but not fulfilling. You have a desire to do more or be more.
Maybe you’re facing an empty nest. You suddenly have freedom and time and possibilities that haven’t been available in a few decades. What is the best way to spend them?
Maybe you’re retiring. But you know the word retire isn’t in the Bible, and you’re not ready for death or shuffleboard.
Maybe you’re facing rapid change. Career specialist Andy Chan notes that young adults will face on average twenty-nine jobs over the course of their lives. Oxford researchers predict that over the next two decades about half the jobs that exist today will be replaced by technology. How do you adapt to a changing environment?
Maybe you have a passion. You have traveled overseas and seen a great need, or you have studied a problem and want to make a difference. What’s your next step?
Perhaps you’re a student trying to decide what school to attend or what major to choose. What if you choose a major that isn’t in line with your ultimate career? (By the way, everyone chooses a major that isn’t in line with their career. Tell your parents not to worry.)
Perhaps you’re on the brink of an exciting relationship or thinking about marriage. How do you know if this person is “the one”? What if you choose wrong?
Many people get confused about decision making and “God’s will for my life.” As we will see, learning to recognize and go through open doors is a learned skill. Most often we learn best by starting with small doors—a word of kindness or an act of service or a risk of confrontation or a prayer of trust.
Every morning is an open door; every moment can become one. Some of us see the doors and seize them, and so life becomes a divine adventure. Some of us shrink back or fail to see. A room with no door is a prison. To fail to embrace the open door is to miss the work God has made for us to do.
Every door you take means leaving something and arriving somewhere. How will it change your life? What will it cost? Every journey—yours too—will be filled with uncertainty and mystery and adventure and frustration and surprise.
From the beginning, God’s open doors meet people’s closed hearts. Abram said,
Where are these places you want me to go?
When will I get there? How will I know?
Will I need a design? Will I need a degree?
Will I need other things that you’re hiding from me?
Where is the map of your plan for my life?
I must know all this stuff. I must talk to my wife.
I’m old. I’m not bold. And you’re leaving things out.
There are bales of details you must tell me about!
And lo! The Lord didn’t tell him. The Lord is notoriously fuzzy about details like that. Knowing too many details would take all the excitement out of the adventure. God wanted Abram to be his friend, and friends trust each other, and you can’t learn to trust someone without a little risk and uncertainty and vulnerability.
God told Abram, “Go to the place I will show you.”
Oh, the places you’ll go!
That’s where the open door leads. To the place where God guides.
God opened a door. Abram went. And the rest is history.
Where will your doors lead?
Taken from All the Places to Go by John Ortberg Copyright © 2015. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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