And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. Acts 16:6
Paul has a front-row seat in the explosive growth of the new Christian church, with joyful memories and deep wounds to prove it. He is taking seriously the call to go and make disciples to the ends of the earth. He has a plan, and nothing can stop him…or can it?
Next up on Paul’s agenda, Asia. But the Holy Spirit forbids him to speak the word there. Change of plans…Bithynia. Again, a ‘no’ from the Spirit that doesn’t allow him to minister there.
Do you ever have doors that just seem to keep closing? They are good things. Really good things; Godly things. They line up with Scripture. You wonder why it just isn’t happening. So, you just keep trying harder; looking for new avenues. You become more determined, refusing to take no for an answer. But yet, the doors are airtight. Nothing is happening.
David Guzik reminds us, “The Holy Spirit often guides as much by the closing of doors as He does by the opening of doors.” This was certainly the case with Paul and his companions. His ministry will eventually take him to these places, but not now. Not yet. God has other plans for this season and this missionary tour.
We know that Paul is disciplined in prayer and fasting, positioning to follow God’s direction. Instead of Paul’s plans, God gives him a vision that leads him to Macedonia. God’s plan was Europe before Asia. Dead ends and temporary disappointments become new directions. Sometimes we don’t get what we want or go where we want – even when they are good things. But obstacles can become blessings when we pray about that ‘no,’ spend time with God and wait to hear what His ‘yes’ is instead. God doesn’t say no just for the sake of no. We need to submit to the ‘no’ to hear the ‘yes.’ The more we fight the ‘no,’ the more we miss out on God’s higher plan. Only the Holy Spirit can direct us when to keep fighting and when to change course. Our job is to listen and be flexible in obedience.
Questions: Do you have any areas in your life that God is saying “no” to in this season? How hard is it for you to trust God’s “no”s?