Many Christians get borderline – or over the line – superstitious* when it comes to “open” and “closed” doors and making important decisions. They should be using the wisdom model of decision making, as the Bible teaches it, because there are zero Bible verses even hinting that God drops us little clues that have to decipher less we mess up his plans. Not only does the wisdom model result in better decisions, but you get to enjoy your freedom in Christ and stop second-guessing everything.
If something looks easy, people sometimes think of that as an open door that they should go through, or if it looks hard it means that God has closed the door. Maybe, but maybe not. Consider these two passages.
1 Corinthians 16:8–9 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
One might think that if there are “many adversaries” that it would be a closed door. Yet Paul explicitly calls the door wide, so he plans to persevere through the opportunity. But sometimes God does close doors – at least temporarily — such as when Jesus commands us not to throw pearls before pigs. The key is discernment and knowing when to start and when to stop.
I realize the books were written at different times, but note how just two chapters later in the Bible later we get this:
2 Corinthians 2:12–13 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.
So you’re the Apostle Paul and you know that the real Lord Jesus has opened a door for you in Troas — but you go on to Macedonia because you miss your friend Titus! Could it be that the Lord opened multiple doors for Paul and he used his freedom in Christ to choose a different one? Note that there is no hint that Paul was being disobedient here.
Remember that while we don’t have access to God’s sovereign will for individual decisions, He has clearly revealed his moral will to us and has promised to give us wisdom if we ask. So as long as you aren’t violating his moral will, then ask for wisdom, read the Bible, talk to wise people, consider your personal preferences (i.e., don’t be a martyr) and then choose with freedom.
If God has a sovereign plan to do something in your life then you can trust that will happen. In the mean time, don’t be paralyzed or make bad decisions because you reverse-engineered some decision based on what you thought God was saying when it was really just you rationalizing what you wanted.
*The word superstitious reminds me of this (I’m not even a little stitious).