One of the hardest things I’ve dealt with since becoming a Christian is believing that God will provide, and then it seems like he doesn’t. It reminds me of this joke/parable.

I’ve read a lot of different takes on this parable, but I’d say the point is that God’s ways are not ours. We might pray and ask God to do something, then wait for God to do it our way.

I’ll go a step further and say that God might put something on our hearts to do, so we do it, expecting one result, and then we get another. For example, in 2011, I believed very strongly that the Lord was leading me to attend a university for a master’s degree in Theology. I had turned away from following one desire to pursue another course for my life because of God’s calling on my life. Therefore, it made sense that a path would open for another degree that “fit” within the calling I had received. What’s the expression? God closes a door and opens a window? Or perhaps it’s God closes a door and opens another?

Revelation tells us that God does open doors that humans cannot shut and closes doors that humans cannot open (Revelation 3:7-8). Indeed, doors are mentioned 154 times in the NIV translation of the Bible, and God does prepare us to walk through them. God also equips us with the tools we need to walk through them (Hebrews 13:21, Ephesians 2:10). Still, those idiomatic expressions about closing one thing and opening another come more from hope in what God is doing (or not doing) than from any verse in the Bible. Yet, we still say things like that. 

We can get into trouble when we believe things like I did in 2011 because we no longer trust in the Lord with all of our hearts. Instead, we are leaning on our understanding of God based on our incomplete view of the whole picture. Another reason we get into trouble is we believe the other things we say, like, “If it failed, then it wasn’t God,” or words to that effect. When we didn’t fail, we just weren’t seeing it the way God did. 

Back in 2011, I didn’t get that degree. I ended up withdrawing from school because my wife and I hadn’t found jobs and a home closer to school, and the long drive to and from school was too much. Working full-time with a family and a full church schedule was too much while also trying to study, but I didn’t see that. I saw failure because of the door and window thing and leaning on my understanding. 

What I didn’t see was that during the long drives back and forth to school, the Lord was working on me. My best friend had died earlier that year, and instead of processing my grief over that, I stuffed it down inside of me and ignored it. Indeed, I “lost” other close friends in those years. Most of whom moved away, and I also stuffed all those feelings. So while I had ignored all that heartache, I had no idea of the pain soon to come when my wife sought a divorce. Those long drives, however, did a lot to heal my grief and prepare my heart for the pain to come.

At the time, I saw all that as a failure because it wasn’t how I thought God should do things. In that “failure,” my faith was shaken. While I trusted God, I didn’t trust that I heard from the Lord correctly. This led to not sharing the things in my heart that God put there and eventually leaving the church. It also led to a profound feeling of shame. 

My faith was shaken because I felt shame over what had happened. I felt shame because I thought I had heard from the Lord, but I obviously had not because what I had been told to do, failed, but the problem wasn’t that I hadn’t heard from the Lord. The problem came from leaning on my understanding of why God wanted me to do what he asked me to do. It reminds me of something I read in Ezra.

I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

Ezra 8:22-23 (NIV)

The Israelites were returning to Jerusalem, and they had all of the resources of Persia available to rebuild the temple of God (Ezra 7:23). Still, Ezra turned down the escort from the king back to Jerusalem. Why? Because Ezra thought that asking for help conflicted with his faith in God. However, when Ezra realized they should have an escort, he felt ashamed, so he didn’t go back to the king and ask for help. Like the man who thought God would miraculously save him from the flood, ignoring the mundane means God provided, Ezra turned down the offer of an escort. 

Everything worked out for Ezra and the Israelites on their return to Jerusalem. But what if they were attacked on the way by robbers? How would Ezra have responded? Ezra 8:31 tells us, “The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way,” which tells me again that Ezra wondered about what he said to the king. 

God tells us to do things; when he does, we should ask him how he wants us to do them and then do what he says. While it’s easy to assume we know why God is telling us to do something, we need to stifle the impulse to try and figure out why and trust that he knows what he is doing.  

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, freed from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart and receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.