“The Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.” (Acts 16:7)
Have you ever planned a trip? Maybe you’ve arranged transportation, lodging, even meal plans. You’re packed and ready to go, tickets in hand, itinerary ready. Imagine what would happen if, at the last minute, everything falls through. Your transportation is canceled, the hotel is full, or your money is stolen. It’s hard to overcome your aggravation to see how it might be for the best. Paul’s second missionary journey is a similar story of plans being upset but a greater good being achieved by the Holy Spirit.
Paul must have felt very frustrated. He and his companions had planned to visit a number of places, but they were “prevented by the Holy Spirit” at every turn. Why would God throw up so many obstacles? Didn’t he know that Paul was trying to spread the Good News? It must have been hard for Paul to comprehend all this with his rational mind.
But it begins to make sense when Paul has a vision of a fellow from Macedonia pleading for him to come to his land. Had Paul followed his own plans, he would have been too far away to answer that call. And it’s a good thing he followed the vision: From Macedonia, Paul brought the gospel to Philippi, Corinth, Thessalonica, and many other places in what is now Greece.
Sometimes we don’t understand how the Holy Spirit is leading us. Still, if we choose to follow—even when it doesn’t make sense or even when it means a major change of plans—greater blessings will come. Of course God wants us to use wisdom and good judgment as we make our plans. But he also wants us to remain open to his intervention. We can’t be so attached to our way that we cannot let it go when we have to. God knows what he is doing. So why not try this weekend—and then every couple of weeks from now on—to make at least one minor decision according to what you think the Holy Spirit is asking you to do. It may not seem logical, and it may have the risk of backfiring—that’s why it’s good to start small. But how else will any of us learn? Give it a try, and see what the Spirit does!
“Holy Spirit, give me the wisdom and discernment to know when you are directing me. I want to follow your plan.”