How to Be An Open-door Person

Do you ever hear a sermon, complete a Bible Study, or leave a conference only to have bits of it remain with you long after?

One of those for me was a conference session I attended over ten years ago. The presenter was John Ortberg, and his talk was on Open Doors.

The session opened with Ortberg reading from two very different texts. The first was from the Bible, Revelation 3:7-8. When he read, he highlighted these words from verse eight, “I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.”

Here, Mr. Ortberg referred to the rich imagery of doors in literature. For instance doors represent safety when bolted, escape when opened, rejection when slammed in the face, and rest when closed to all that is happening on the other side.

However, he went on to say that according to one of his Bible professors, doors mean none of this in the Revelation passage. Instead, this Open Door is symbolic of boundless opportunity, unlimited chances to do something worthwhile, grand openings into new and unknown adventures of significant living, and heretofore unimagined chances to do good, to make our lives count for eternity.

Perhaps this is why the session has returned once again to my mind after all these years. As I grow older, I seem to think more and more about making my life count for eternity. And here, in the middle of these thoughts, God says, “I have set before you [Debbie] an open door.” One that is the great adventure of life! Because of the Open Door God has set before me, I have hope. Hope that my little story can be part of His big story, that my little life can be useful to His Kingdom work.

Believe it or not, at a Christian conference, the second text was not from the Bible. It started like this:

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”

And it ended like this:

“So… be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!”

Do you recognize it? Yes, of course, it’s Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (If you are not familiar with it or simply want to read it afresh, you can find a copy HERE.)

While certainly not the Bible, this book tied in ever so nicely with the Open-Door thinking presented in Revelation. (I can see why Ortberg included the reading!)

Since we are here reflecting on the idea of God setting before us an Open Door and wondering what those Open Doors might be, perhaps this is a good time to visit some of the key elements Mr. Ortberg shared regarding how to becoming an Open-Door person.

Open Doors are a gift of God’s good grace. Consider Abraham in the Old Testament. In Genesis 12:1, we read, “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’” No details were given. The command was simply, Go! Details would have taken all the fun and adventure and faith out of it.

Go means we have no choice but to trust God. It means we have to let go of being in control. And it means we must leave our little comfort zone. God opens doors because His Kingdom work involves us. He wants our families, our children and our grandchildren, to know Him. For His work to be accomplished, we cannot stay where we are. We must go!

First, God tells Abraham to go. Then He tells him why He wants him to go. And the answer lies in one little word, bless (Genesis 12:2)!

An Open Door is never opened to us just for our benefit. God told Abraham that He would bless him. But He also told him that the blessing was not his to keep. The blessing was to be given out. Abraham was blessed to be a blessing – on a scale that he could not even begin to imagine!

This is our mission statement. The purpose of the Open Door is – go and bless! To bless is to add to life or to enhance it. Blessing is what God does. Genesis 1:20-22 is the first time we see blessings in the Bible, and God is blessing fish! He loves to bless. The Open-Door life is life with a mission – wherever you go.

Open Doors are about opportunities. They are not guarantees. When multiple doors seem to be open at the same time, people often obsess over which one to open. Do I take Door #1 or Door #2? Some people, in fact, obsess to the point that they conclude there must be something wrong if it seems God hasn’t clearly told them which door to choose. Their assumption is that if there is an option, there must be a correct choice.

The truth is that God is more concerned with the person you become than the circumstances you inhabit. To become a person of excellent character, you must make choices. Decision making is an indispensable part of character formation. And God is in the character formation business.

God opened doors for people all through the Bible. Can you think of one time when He ever gave someone an easy job? Is it recorded that He ever said, “This won’t inconvenience you much?” He never says the job is going to be easy. What He does say is that He will go with us.

People have refused at times to go through an Open Door because they don’t feel “peace” about it. Think about this. When God told Moses to go to Pharoah, David to face Goliath, Daniel to enter the lion’s den, or Esther to face Haman, did any of them say, “Oh, yes. I have great peace about this?”

Peace lies on the other side of obedience. It’s on the other side of the door not this side. Peace doesn’t lie in getting God to provide us with different circumstances. It lies in finding God in the circumstances we are in.

We love big Open Doors, don’t we? But the best way to discern big Open Doors is to practice on little Open Doors. Open Doors are not about glamour and prestige. They are about following Jesus. The way to prepare for Open Doors is to do what He actually says to do from one moment to the next. The main requirement to being an Open-Door person is obedience.

Seek in every moment to do what God says to do, because every moment comes with a door. The Open-Door mindset rejects the myth that someone is crippled because they made a wrong choice in their path somewhere. That because they chose a wrong door way back when, they are now stuck with God’s Plan B.

There’s always an Open Door. Pastor and author, Craig Groeschel, says, “If you’re not dead, you’re not done.” There’s no retirement when it comes to the Open Door.

Did you know that there is a whole field of study in the social sciences around the psychology of regret? One of the most striking findings from this study is the way regret changes over the course of our lives. When we are younger, short-term regret almost always involves wishing we had not done something. ( I wish I hadn’t stayed up so late before my exam! I wish I hadn’t eaten that entire pizza!) However, our perspective shifts as we get older, and we come to regret the actions that we did not take. (The word of love not spoken, the opportunity to serve that we did not take, the expensive gift that we did not give, the scary risk that we did not attempt.)

This Open-Door life is an amazing gift from God. Knowing this, however, does not make it easy. Recall that an Open-Door life requires stepping out of our comfort zone, relinquishing control, and employing trust. It means we must go and bless!

None of this is easy. Especially for the older among us who might tend to be set in our ways. One of the best things we can do to become an Open-Door person is to enlist a trusted friend to help us recognize the Open Doors that are set before us.

I’ve been mulling this over in my mind. Asking myself what difference it makes in my life.

…If I truly believe that there is an Open Door before me,

…One that God has placed there,

…For the benefit of others,

“Will I look for it?” “Will I make the decision to walk through it – knowing He is with me?”

Jesus made His earthly life an adventure in unlimited chances to do good, and He was killed for it. His body was laid in a tomb. Everyone thought it was over. But… on the third day, God said, “I have set before you an Open Door.” God IS the God of the Open Door. No stone in front of a tomb can stop that.

After His resurrection, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). Then He commanded His followers to go, bless, and make disciples.

This is our mission – the purpose of the Open Door – go, bless, and make disciples. Where is your door? Will you walk through it?