“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; there stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, ‘Come over into Macedonia, and help us.’” (Acts 16:6-9)
Here is a passage of scripture that appears to be purely historical content. But on closer inspection, we can find great encouragement for our lives. Imagine yourself to be Paul. Having finished your work in Galatia, you have tentatively scheduled yourself and your party to travel into Asia, a vast area unreached for God. It stands to reason that this would be a good area for an evangelist to enter. But the Holy Spirit has other plans. Well, let’s go into Bithynia; but again, the Holy Spirit has other plans. Finally, we take a safe tact and go to Troas determined to wait on the Holy Spirit. Here we can continue by land or by sea at His direction. Sure enough, the Holy Spirit gives direction through a dream. Now we are on our way. We could not possibly have known that there was a great and effectual door opened into Macedonia for the gospel. But the Holy Spirit knew.
How easily Paul could have become discouraged. He could have felt abandoned by God. He could have railed at God, “Come on, what do you want.” And God’s continued silence could have increased his frustrations. Instead, Paul moved through the doors that were open to him. And all of Europe was opened up for the gospel!
The choices that Paul was making were good choices. Paul was not inadequate as a leader, he was not short-sighted in his time alone with God. There was nothing in Paul or the set of circumstances at hand that was wrong, insufficient, or unpalatable to God. God just knows things that we do not. Though God often shows us things ahead of time, he is not obligated to do so. Though He teaches us to plan ahead, He is not obligated to follow our plan. He still desires us to be dependent on Him, to look to Him, to desire His ways above our own and what seems best.
By going down to Troas, he was able to move whenever God did speak. He could go by land or sea, as God would choose. Having done that, he went to sleep. Whether in Asia or Bithynia or Troas or Timbuktu, he knew that he was God’s servant ready to serve at God’s direction. He could wait without feeling lazy or unproductive. So he slept, and even in his sleeping God found him and directed his course.
Dear Friend, trust in God’s leading and discover wonderful doors of unknown possibilities!
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