“Paul and his companions travelled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” Acts 16:6 (NIV)
In this chapter of Acts, I read of a well-planned missionary trip that had to change course because of the involvement of the Holy Spirit.
Timothy accompanied Paul on his second missionary trip. Their itinerary took them from town to town where they delivered the decisions reached by the leaders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. It bore good fruit: the churches were strengthened in faith and grew in numbers. Reason enough for the two travelling missionaries to continue their journey.
Their destination was Asia, but they had to deviate from their planned route because “The Holy Spirit kept them from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” They travelled on to the border of Mysia, where they tried to enter Bithynia, but in Acts 16:7, we read that “The spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” Then they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas where they stopped over.
Do you see what is happening here? They had to adjust their route due to hindrances on their way. It was in Troas, in the (forced) silence of a night’s rest that the Holy Spirit could get Paul’s full attention. In a vision at night, a man of Macedonia was standing, begging them to come over to Macedonia to help them (Acts 16:9). Only then did they realise that God called them to preach the gospel to the Macedonians. They immediately left for Macedonia.
In your life and mine, we can easily get caught up in the launching or success of a project or task that we are working on. We plan for better and bigger and more – inevitable guzzlers of time, producing haste, and busier lives. Take a breather and be still so that you are able to distinguish between your plan and what the Holy Spirit has in mind – that it does not fade away and become mere wishful thinking.
Sometimes a door closes in life. It does not necessarily mean that your task, charge or calling is a permanent “No”. Maybe you should adjust your course slightly because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of Jesus, has a task that takes priority for that moment. One you must execute. You need to be still and listen to where the Spirit is leading you. Obedience to his guidance is where fulfilment lies!
Prayer: My Father, thank you for the guidance of the Spirit in my life. Sometimes though, I put the cart before the horse and do not wait for the exact blueprint. Please help me to wait for the Holy Spirit’s confirmation in my spirit. Then, I know, the right door(s) will also open at the right time. Amen.