The God Who Opens Doors

by Rev. Dr. Susan Smith

Every day I write a prayer on Facebook, and yesterday’s prayer is something that has been sticking with me since I wrote it. Here is the prayer:

God who opens doors, come. Someone, today, is standing in front of a door You have opened and they don’t know how to walk through it. They have prayed for it and You have answered, but now they hesitate. So many of Your children do that. We hesitate because of our own insecurities and fears, our concern that we will not be up to that for which You have called and prepared us to do. We hesitate, and some of us hesitate too long, and the door closes. God, please open doors for someone today, but then give them enough of Your holy spirit to walk through. Let them know that it is OK to shake a little as they walk through, but tell them they must do it. Remind us all that we are on this earth but for a short time, that we live in the “dash days” between the day of our birth and the day of our death. The doors You open are a part of our “dash day” stories and legacies. Remind them that if You opened the door, they are ready for what’s on the other side of the door. On this day where we wait to experience a solar eclipse, where the earth will become dark as the moon passes in front of the sun, help us to experience a spiritual solar eclipse, allowing You to cover our fears and worries. You open doors because You need us on the other side. God of open doors, come.

It occurred to me that many of us pray for doors to open but when they finally do, we do not walk through, for whatever reason. I remember when my son Charlie was about to begin the 1st grade in a new school. He had been excited for weeks, and expressed some of that excitement in the car as we went to the school.

But when we  got  to the door of his classroom, he froze. He put his little hands behind his back and just stood there. I didn’t say a word. He didn’t lean forward to see if he could see who else was in the room. He didn’t look for his teacher. And he didn’t look at me. He just stood there.

I just watched and said nothing. All of the other little kids were running into the room, but Charlie stood there. Finally, he took a deep breath and walked closer to the room and then, still without looking back at me, ran in.

I wonder how many of us have open doors before us that God opened because God knows we are ready – just like Charlie was ready for the 1st grade – but we are unsure of that readiness. We prayed for the doors to open but if the truth be told, we had gotten really comfortable in “the other room,” the room and place in which we had been for so long. Before the open door, even an empty hallway seems more secure than the unknown space into which a way has been made for us to enter.

The part of my Facebook prayer that got to me was the sentence, “You open doors because you need us on the other side.” God needs us to walk through the doors. God opens doors for us for a reason, and if a door opens, we can be sure God is behind it and is on “the other side,” waiting. If we choose to stay in “the other room,” as opposed to going to “the other side,” we show a distrust of God. Our choice, in the instance of an open door, tells God about our faith, whether it is solid or more an activity of spiritual verbosity. God doesn’t need verbosity. God needs us.

For those who doubt their inherent worth and value, the previous sentence might be jarring. When you live your life believing that you have no worth, it is a jump to ingest and digest the thought that God, the Almighty, might need  you. But God sees what humans cannot, and God puts within us all God’s own seed of desire. The open door in front of us represents a step toward making that seed bloom and flower.

What is true is that God opens doors for all of us, but many of us miss them, either because we don’t look for them and therefore miss them when they are right in front of us, or because we see the open door but doubt ourselves and our spiritual capacity to exercise the kind of faith we need to walk through. Some of us see the open door but refuse to walk through because we know our lives will change and we do not want to do the work. We are spiritually lazy.

The challenge for us all is to not only ask for doors to be open but to ask for the strength and genuine faith it will take to walk through once we see the open door in front of us. God needs us on the other side. Go figure. God …needs us…on the other side. Amen and amen.

About The Author

Dr. Susan Smith Dr. Susan K. Smith is the former pastor of the Advent United Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio. She received her education from Occidental College, Yale University, and United Theological Seminary. She is the author of five books and the proud mother of two children.

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