When God Doesn't Open a Door
My church has been in a study on the book of Esther. Many truths have stood out to me, but one particular bend in Chapter 5 challenged me in a way that I couldn’t have expected. A little background on how I often decide where God is leading me: When stepping out in faith, or even beginning something new, I’m the person who’s looking for the open door. I want the specific answer to prayer, the “thus sayeth the Lord” moment, the talking donkey. It’s not so much that I’m unwilling to step out in faith; it’s simply that I want to know my step of faith is grounded in the Lord’s direction. The “open door” tends to be one of the things I look for. But is that always the right criteria?
When Queen Esther’s cousin and adopted father, Mordecai, informed her of a plot to kill all the Jews in the provinces of Persia, she felt overwhelmed with fear (Esther 4:4). Mordecai implored her to approach the king on behalf of her people, to save the Jews from annihilation. Esther explained to Mordecai that she could only approach the king if he summoned her. Approaching the king without having first been summoned, even as the queen, was grounds for the death penalty. If the king happened to extend grace, he would do so by extending his golden scepter, but Esther wouldn’t know this until after she’d put her life on the line.
Is a closed door really a closed door?
Putting my life on the line is precisely what I would consider a closed door. But Mordecai responded, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14.) Now see, this is another problem for me. When stepping out in faith, I’m typically looking for something a little more rock solid than who knows? Furthermore, Esther responded to Mordecai’s plea by saying that she would approach the king and “If I perish, I perish.” Statements like who knows and if I perish, I perish don’t exactly have a ring of guarantee to them. But Esther and Mordecai’s faith wasn’t grounded in the open door scenario. Something else was present.
Esther and Mordecai agreed to fast and pray for three days (prayer is not actually mentioned but implied) with their Jewish communities before she approached the king. We don’t have the specifics of what they prayed for, but don’t we know that one of them was, “Lord, prompt the king to summon Esther! Lord, it’s been over 30 days since she’s been summoned. Move on his heart to call her to his throne so her life won’t be at risk!” Could Esther herself have prayed something like, “Lord, if the king summons me, then I’ll know for sure it’s an open door and I’ll ask the king to spare the Jews!”?
We don’t know for sure, but I have to believe those three days included many prayers for the king to summon Esther. For God to open a door.
When do you knock on a closed door?
But on the third day, there was only silence. No summons. No invitation. No open door.
And what did Esther do? She got dressed. She did that mundane thing we all have to do. Put our clothes on for the day. Then she stood in the courtyard of the king’s palace and faced both her greatest fears and greatest hope. The king extended his golden scepter toward her. She had found favor in his eyes. She would not perish in that moment.
God had opened a door but not before Esther went knocking on it.
When we knock and God opens
As I pondered Esther and Mordecai’s truly remarkable faith I had to ask myself, what was it based on? It certainly wasn’t based on God opening a miraculous door ahead of time safe within the reaches of their comfort zone. It wasn’t even based on a supernatural dream, a prophetic word, or an angel whose first words are typically “do not fear” after they’ve scared everyone to death—this would have been solid Old Testament fare to go on. But Esther didn’t have to wait for an open door or a specific word because she already knew God’s revealed will.
God had already revealed Himself as the personal God of the Jews, their Deliverer, Redeemer, and Rock. Esther knew God’s heart for His people. He’d been revealing it since Abraham. True, Esther didn’t have a guarantee on her life or how exactly this would play out, but she could step out on some pretty incredible history of God acting on behalf of His people. The combination of His unmatched strength and the Jews’ chosen-ness wasn’t a specific guarantee for her personal preferences but it was a solid rock to step out on. Simply put, Esther didn’t have to wait for an open door because God had already revealed His will.
I couldn’t help but ask myself, how much more do we as New Testament believers know the revealed will of God through Jesus? He’s told us through His Word what He cares about: The poor, the lost, the sick, the down-and-outers, the up-and-outers, those on the fringes of society. He cares about people! He cares about His Gospel being proclaimed. He cares about the rule of His Kingdom coming on earth. He cares about our relationships, our love for one another, His church—oh, He cares about His church of which He is the Head. He cares about the friends and families He blesses us with and entrusts to us.
Not only has Jesus revealed the things He cares about, but He’s also told us what to do: Share the good news of the Gospel; make disciples; lay our lives down for one another; store up treasure in heaven and don’t live for the temporal; overflow with joy in Him; pray without ceasing; be generous; love each other with the love of Christ; open our homes to those who need a place to stay; be hospitable; forgive one another; serve one another; be filled with the Holy Spirit; go and tell all about Him…
And sometimes, even knowing all of this, I wait and wait and wait to step out because I’m waiting for Him to open a door. And I wonder if all that is really a super spiritual sounding EXCUSE, in Jesus’ Name. Certainly I believe in God opening doors—we see that exact phrase used in the New Testament. But what Esther taught me is that too often we use this concept as the necessary pre-cursor to doing anything at all, rather than being obedient to what God already told us to do.
I believe that God still specifically directs our steps, I believe He still acts supernaturally, I believe He still calls certain people for certain things, I believe that He still flings doors wide open. I also believe the author of Hebrews’ words that in the former days God spoke at different times and in different ways, but today He has spoken through His Son, Jesus. And if we know who Jesus is, what He cares about, and what He’s told us to do, well then, that is the open door. More specifically—and He said it Himself—He is the door. (John 10:9.)
What has He asked you to do through the revealed will of His word? What are you waiting for? Maybe the door is already open and God is waiting for us to put our clothes on, stand to face the task ahead, and turn the knob.
Originally written & shared by Kelly Minter. Used with permission.