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Praying for Closed Doors

“I don’t know which college to pick. I got into these two schools and I like them equally, but I’m afraid to pick the wrong one.”

When we ran a GAP-year program in Baja, MX, each class of students lived with us from August to June. They were all recent high school graduates and no one had lived away from home yet. 

Tied in knots between quality universities, we watched them makes lists of pros and cons and worry for weeks, sometimes months. 

  • Cal Baptist or Moody?
  • Point Loma or Liberty?
  • Baylor or Westmont?
  • Azusa or Biola?

If you attended one of those schools, you most likely have a gut reaction in one particular direction. But from their naive perspective, the options looked equal and they froze.

So we’d pray with them and ask if they had considered Reed or Berkeley.

Kidding.

Here’s what we did recommend: ask God what He wants. Most of them assumed He would be good with any Christian college, but forgot to pray for His direction. 

Then we assured them if they didn’t sense a closed door, it was perfectly fine to move forward in confidence that either choice would be fine.

And that’s when they’d look at us like we just popped a stress balloon.

“Really?”

“Yes—be free.”

From Open to Closed

Three years ago we housed a visiting missionary family of ten at our home in Baja. (Yep—eight children.) In the middle of telling us a story, the wife made a comment about praying for closed doors. 

Such a tiny shift in perspective intrigued me so I mulled it over and explored what that looked like.

I’ve come to these conclusions: sometimes God closes a door to protect us, and sometimes He closes a door to get us out of our comfort zone in order to experience growth. 

Been there. Twice.

In 2005 God seemed to be moving us out of the States, but we had no direction about our next location. Costa Rica? Ecuador? Nicaragua? Guatemala?

At the same time every door slammed shut, one opened in Mexico.

Twelve years later God seemed to be moving us out of Baja, but we had no direction about our next location. Texas? NorCal? Oregon? Idaho? 

At the same time every door slammed shut, one opened in SoCal. 

Our family experienced a ton of change in the past dozen years. Praying for closed doors always proved beneficial, especially when multiple options paralyzed us. 

Plus, the clarity that comes with a closed door? Unmistakable.  

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash

My New J-O-B

Catering went well through December, especially when I worked a wedding on the 23rd and came home with a boatload of food for our extended family. But occasional weekend work isn’t what my husband had in mind, and isn’t enough to pay for my writing fetish. 

So last month I applied for two jobs at the same time and felt fairly confident I’d get one. 

Since I’m nutso about honesty, I’ll timidly admit this: they both fell within my wheelhouse and I secretly assumed I’d get both. 

Good grief… that sounds slightly pompous. Don’t judge. I’m sure I’m not the only one who ever thought they’d get the job/award/recognition and turned out to be wrong. 

Visions of our students came flooding back. I knew I could pick either job with confidence, knowing I prayed about it and sensed no closed doors.

I walked out of the first office feeling confident, but knowing a handful of other applicants existed.

“Thanks for coming in. We’ll let you know by the end of the week.”

My cell rang 24 hours later.

“Hi, Carrie. I wanted to let you know we went with another applicant.”

Pride Check

I started working at age 12. I’ve worked in 15 jobs over my life and this was only the second time I didn’t get a position. 

So sad, too bad, move on. 

No time for whining, but I couldn’t help wonder what they didn’t like about me. A friend reminded me they could have already had a different candidate in mind. 

Either way, the reality of God being my CEO jolted me back to reality. I possessed more peace than turmoil and rested in the fact that He must have something different in store. 

I couldn’t push this closed door back open, so I let it go.

Forty-five minutes later, the second organization called.

“Can you come in for an interview this week?”

So I went into my son’s room and said, “Chancho—I need to borrow some sweeaats.”

Not really. I have my own sweats. But I didn’t wear them. I wore pants. 

An hour of back and forth Q & A ended with the Executive Director asking me questions about our time in Baja, how it changed me and what I missed the most.

“Thanks for coming in. We’ll let you know by the end of the week.”

My cell rang four hours later.

“Hi, Carrie. I’d like to offer you the job.”

Over the weekend I prayed for a closed door. If You don’t want me to work here, Lord, please make it blatantly obvious. 

Badda bing, badda boom…

I am now an employee of Habitat for Humanity, one of the largest non-profits in the world. Seems fitting since I grew up in a non-profit, worked for one when I got married and then started one with my husband in another country.

I get cracking this week and have nothing to wear. Not really, but I haven’t worked in an office for almost 18 years. My uniform in the land of dust and mud ranged from jeans and t-shirts to sweats and sweatshirts. 

Super classy with a side of tennis shoes.

I’m excited to get into a new community though! Being a writer brings times of loneliness… quiet… isolation. I appreciate those aspects, but I’m also looking forward to being back on a team.

Hope they send me a memo about when to wear gray.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Mind Shift

Praying for open doors isn’t bad or wrong. I just needed a little shake-up in my prayer life when it came to decisions. 

Maybe you do too.

Are you waiting? Wondering? Stressing? Still knocking? Trying to shove a door open?

If you feel like it’s maybe time to switch your perspective and start praying for closed doors, tell me about it below.

Matthew 6:6

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. (NLT)

Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. (MSG)

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34 Responses to Praying for Closed Doors

  1. Congrats on the new job! And happy to hear it’s a casual office. I’ve been living in jeans, t-shirts now for 16 years. My son is 11, with special needs, and I”m not sure when I might get back into the work force. Even just with volunteering, I’ve prayed for God to show me where he wants me, and He has closed some doors for me, in ways I probably would not have chosen (one was painful), but looking back, I learned a lot, and am grateful that He carried me through the experience.
    All the best, and so happy for you,
    Eileen in NoCal

    • Gracias, Eileen. I wish a non-cliché saying existed for “hindsight is 20/20.” Can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciate and respect God’s timing after the fact. One of these days I’m hoping it’ll be my 1st thought in the face of adversity and not my 3rd or 7th thought. Keep on keepin’ on… your son is blessed to have you home!

  2. We have been knocking on doors in northern Arizona ever since we moved down here. It seems logical that we move back, all of our family except my parents are in central/northern AZ. How could God not want us to go back where we could be a light to them, be there for the in-laws as they age? Finally last year we began looking at our desires from a different perspective. We truly love a lot of aspects of living in southeastern AZ. What purpose did God have for us as we waited for the next open door? Your reminder to pray for closed doors is timely. Bobby will be interviewing tomorrow for a civilian DOD job in Germany. We want it and don’t want it. We have so much more trust now than even just a year ago, however, that as we move forward God will continue to direct our steps.

    • Wow–how exciting to be in the midst of such a decision, Shelley! Well, exciting from the outside, but I know all too well what it feels like on the inside of a situation. Confusion, frustration, exasperation… they can all settle in if I’m not careful. But the older I get the more stories I have of God’s hand over our situations. Even when I muddle through in not-so-glorious ways, I love coming out the other side with another testimony of His provision… and perfect timing! So how did the interview go?

      • The interview is set for 06 February 0800 MST and then it will likely be a week or two before we know. The government does not do anything quickly! I agree that the good part of aging is looking back and seeing my life from God’s perspective which emboldens my faith moving forward. On the other hand I wonder why, after all these years of knowing and loving Him, I am not more trusting and confident! Pressing on!

        • Doesn’t waiting a week feel like a month sometimes? Hope the interview went well today at whatever time you were trying to tell me. Haha.

          Yep–I agree with your mixed emotions. How could I ever wonder or doubt anything after decades of God proving himself faithful over and over? I wonder if He looks at me the way I look at my kids sometimes: You keep questioning and I keep feeding you. Don’t you trust me that I will feed you tomorrow?

  3. Another great read, Carrie – thanks! Clearly you hit a nerve with many of your followers. After having only two responses to job inquiries over the past three years, I had assumed God wanted me to stay put – so I kept building custom furniture. However, the growing cost of health insurance for Dianne and I caused me to respond to an ad from an old client, less than a week after having a conversation about our situation with our small group. Short story, shorter… I had a job offer in 24 hours and started the following Monday. God’s timing is often frustrating, but always perfect. Congrats fellow full time/real job go getter!

    • Thanks, Dana. Yes–I guess I did hit a nerve… this is the most comments I think I’ve ever received on one post! I love your story; thanks for sharing. I think if I could pick a superpower I’d want hindsight ahead of time. Haha. But maybe not ’cause then my faith muscle would atrophy. Thanks for the congrats and encouragement. I’m only working part-time, but it’s amazing how behind the eightball I felt last week when I got home each day. Nevermind volunteering, cooking and cleaning… how am I going to write my book?

  4. Te admiro bastante Carrie,

    A mis 30 años siento que eh orado bastante a Dios para hacer algo más grande que solo esperar, me eh esforzado para llegar a conseguir entrevistas y en la última que me pidieron mi resumee decidí no enviarlo por miedo a enfrentar los cambios en mi vida, después me siento culpable por no haberlo intentado. Muchas veces olvidó que Dios es la llave maestra para abrir y cerrar cada puerta.

    Gracias por recordármelo y gracias por tu valentía para escribir y creer en tu talento, que nos ayuda a muchos como lo puedo leer en tu artículo.

    Missing you desde baja.

    • Híjole, Deniss… eres muy amable. Gracias por sus palabras de animo. Entiendo la culpa, y entiendo cómo siente para olvidar que Dios es responsable de las puertas. No es fácil! Necisito hacer una pausa y pensar cada vez. Pero si se puede!

      Wow–mi Español esta oxidado y necisitaba ayuda de Señor Diccionario! Jaja. 🙂 Yo también te extraño. Saludos, amiga!

  5. Congrats on the new job!

    I have to say, I did not see disability in my future. It’s been hard to have the door to my writing shut, but in a way, it’s been a relief too… God’s way of helping me say no graciously when all I’ve wanted to say was yes in an ever changing landscape that was harder and harder to succeed at. Anyway… taking it each day at a time. I can say that I’m a lot closer to Him now and I have time to read parenting books and other great fiction, too. Hugs to you!

    • Gracias, Gidget. I didn’t see disability in your future either. I hear ya with the writing gig. SO many aspects to the craft and industry and way harder than I ever imagined. I look forward to seeing how God uses your writing talent in the future though. Can you imagine writing about your hard experience? You could bless so many people with your words. Hugs back.

  6. Nice! Congrats on the new job, and I hope your team is full of fun people.

    I applied for many jobs when I let college. And was only offered one.
    Maui. It’s been a wild ride. I recently prayed for closed doors and new opportunities. I didnt feel like I should leave but if things persisted I couldnt stay. Instead I got a new coworker with a skill set my team was lacking, and a huge impediment removed from our path. For the first time in almost 2 years, I’m actually hopeful. And a little excited to see what’s coming.

    • Thank you, Andrea. I’ve already met about half my co-workers, but tomorrow I’ll meet all of them. Looking forward to fun in the midst of purposeful work. I guess if you’re only going to be offered one job, Maui ain’t such a bad gig. So happy for you that you have renewed hope and excitement for the future!

  7. WOW.
    Seriously, are you reading my brain? Apologies for that whole bucket of X-Files worthy scariness, BTW.
    I have had a looooonnnnnnnnnggggggggggg season of taking one step and staying there for a few months, then taking a bunch of steps, and staying there for another few months, and just a few weeks ago, BOOOOOM!!! A HUGE step was laid out at my feet, so I’m not stupid, and I took that one too. Now, more non-steps as I wait. (Insert Jeopardy music here).
    I’m fairly certain that God is doing the chaff thing, and burning away all the hidden immunity idols that I had stashed away. Okay, they weren’t all that well hidden, but they were idols. And yes, I’ve been praying for closed doors, open doors, and even doors with cracks in them.
    Thank you for this, Carrie.

    • Ha ha–glad my brain isn’t the only one firing in this way. 🙂 Idols be gone! I like the way you described the doors you’ve been praying for–even the ones with cracks in them. Classic! Keep on movin’ on, Jennifer. Once we get past the disappointment in some closed doors, there is freedom!

  8. Congrats! Save some dough and try ThredUp for office wear. I just did the same thing and really enjoyed keeping cash in my pocket. 🙂 I can send you a link if you want.

    • Thanks, Nicole. Sounds like some others I’ve heard of, but I don’t know if I want to deal with mailing things back if they don’t fit. I like the hunt at Marshall’s and TJMaxx. 🙂 Plus, I just found out our office is pretty casual. Yay!

    • Gracias, amigo. Looking forward to working for such a solid company! Maybe when you retire you should come work here instead of being a Walmart Greeter with Doooglas. You would be great out in the field.

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