If you were like me, as a child, I often practiced the dangerous habit of leaving the door open. Out excitement to get to what was on the other side of the door or the logic I had that it’s okay to leave it open because “I’m coming right back” or “I’m going right back out”, I would leave the door to the house open. However, my Momma didn’t play that! Even if I had walked several yards away from the house after leaving or went in to another room after coming inside, I would hear the sharp command to, “COME BACK HERE AND CLOSE THIS DOOR!!!”
I used to think my Momma was being too extreme and over the top. I used to think to myself, “Dang Momma! Why you have to hollah like that?” And if I was down the street and she had to come all the way outside to tell me to do it, I would (only in my imagination) look at her and be like, “Now if you put your slippers and gown on and walked all the way from your room to the door to stick your head outside, why you gotta call me all the way back to the house and tell me to close the doggone door? You are standing right there! You close the door!” Then I would imagine her punching me in my mouth, so I would shake that imagination and walk back to close the door.
As I grew older I understood two things about why my mother took closing the door so serious.
- She wasn’t just fussing or being mean. She wanted us to learn to close the door behind us to keep the temperature inside the house stable and to keep the animals and insects out of the house.
- She wasn’t responsible for closing the door because she didn’t open it. She was trying to teach us to be responsible for correcting our own errors.
As men, we sometimes leave doors opened to wrong relationships, old habits and perverted behaviors, unwise spending and bad opportunities. We sometimes leave them open because of the excitement of interacting with what’s on the other side. At other times we leave them open because it’s comfortable. If we were to narrow those reasons down, we could conclude that we leave doors in our lives open as a way to easily escape. We have a tendency to want to escape the monotony and discomfort of life. Yet, in our pursuit of excitement and comfort, we fail to see that we are negatively impacting the atmosphere of our lives and giving access to things that can irritate us, attack us and even destroy our lives from the inside out.
If you are like me, there are times when we know that we have gone too far on the other side of the door. We know we have gone too far because our excitement turns into fear and our comfort turns into complacency. We are either filled with shame and condemnation which makes us afraid that we will get caught coming in from the other side, or our conscience is so compromised that we justify why we should just stay on the other side or continue to bounce in and out. In both instances we can find ourselves asking, “God why don’t you/didn’t you just close the door so I won’t keep/wouldn’t keep going in and out.”
God’s response to me has been, “I didn’t open the door, and I am not the one that left it open, so I am not the one responsible for closing the door.”
In Jonah 2, we can see this picture played out as Jonah decided to enter a door that God never told him to enter and began to suffer the consequences of his choice. The verse that strikes me is verse 8 where Jonah says, in essence, “If a person continues to deceive himself into thinking that he is right or justified when he knows that he is at fault, he delays his opportunity to receive mercy from the Lord.”
If we are too far beyond the door, the right response is not to blame God for not closing the door. The scriptures teach us that mercy rejoiceth against judgment (James 2:13). So God would rather show us mercy than to judge us for incorrect behavior. However, the scripture also teaches that God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). So, if we find ourselves too far on the other side of a door that we should have closed, we should first humble ourselves and ask God for mercy to get back to the other side and grace to shut that door, forever.
The more excellent truth is this; if we have a door that we know should no longer be open, we need to take the responsibility and become urgent about closing those doors (listen to YouTube video above. I do not own the rights to this music), because some doors will take us to places that mercy won’t even go (Proverbs 2:16-19).