Many things in the word of God are easy to understand. Other things leave us with unanswered questions. Sometimes you just have to accept what you know and not get too caught up in the parts you cannot explain.
Such is the case with Acts 16:6 to 10. Paul and his companions wanted to go to western Turkey, but they were “kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching there” (verse 6). Then they decided to go north, but “the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” (verse 7).
Finally, Paul receives a vision to go to Greece, so that is what they do (verses 8 to 10).
Now, here is what I want to know: how did “the Spirit of Jesus” and “the Holy Spirit” prevent Paul from going to those places? Did they understand at the time that this was the work of God, or did it just seem that “circumstances were against them?”
Did they attribute all of this to God only after the fact? We do not have clear answers to those questions. However, there are some things that we do know for sure.
First, Paul had a plan that did not work out. Oddly, we seem to think that if we make plans and pray over them, then God should bless everything that we want to do. In this case, we find that Paul was not in charge and we are reminded that things go according to God’s plans and not ours – always.
Second, we better get used to words like “uncertain” and “ambiguous.” In other words, since we are not in control, things may not always seem to make sense at the time.
Third, when they got to where God wanted them to go, there was work for them to do. A woman named Lydia was waiting for them to tell her about Jesus (Acts 16:11 to 15), but she would have missed out if Paul had not allowed God to direct his path.
I believe that God still has a plan for us and that he has work for us to do. I believe that things happen so that I am shaped, changed and directed by God. Do I understand all of that at the time? No. Can I explain it to you? No. Can I see it “after the fact?” Often, yes.
When I have a mindset that says, “God is in control,” then everything, even the bad stuff, can have purpose and meaning. When I live with my eyes open to what God might be doing here, then I end up living for something bigger than myself.
Who is directing your path?
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).