They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. – Acts 16:6-8
While most Bible readers are familiar with Paul and Luke’s “Macedonian Call,” they might have overlooked the frustrating occurrences that immediately preceded that nocturnal vision.
The first missionary journey came off without a hitch. Sent out by the church at Antioch, Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark (okay, John Mark might have left the party a little early) took the good news of Jesus abroad with great success and amazing stories of receptivity. The second trip was a different story. It began with a sharp disagreement between old friends and then moved into a series of Holy Spirit directed prohibitions.
In ministry, we often build from our successes. A plan or program “works” and, therefore, we assume it will always do so. Rather than look continually to the place from which our help must come, we begin to trust in our own methods and power to achieve, but God would not have it this way. He has determined to direct the path of His church and its members. We are clay and as such must remain pliable and moldable, useful in His service. Paul (and the team) had to learn this truth and so must we.
While we can only serve out of previous experience, we must not assume that such historical paths can be followed into the future. Only if we remain in constant contact with our Lord will we successfully achieve His purpose and plan. God’s prohibitions, as we must also learn, are merely His guides to His obedient service.
The will of God for your life is simply that you submit yourself to Him each day and say, “Father, Your will for today is mine. Your pleasure for today is mine. Your work for today is mine. I trust You to be God. You lead me today and I will follow.” – Kay Arthur