June 18, 2021
…Having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia… they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them… And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us”… [so we concluded] that God had called us to preach the gospel to them…
Our passage today is a terrific example of how God can lead us in making decisions. True, God does not provide all the details about just what exactly happened here (How did the Holy Spirit “forbid” them in Asia? How did the Spirit of Jesus “not allow” them from going into Bithynia? etc.). But not only does this passage demonstrate God’s willingness to really and truly lead us in our decision-making, but it also shows He likes to do it in very different ways, too.
It is the same with us. Our loving heavenly Father will lead us, but it is rarely in a manner we might expect! I once had the chance to pursue a significant promotion within my old company, but for a number of reasons I was pretty scared about doing so. However, I really did want to go for it if I knew for sure God wanted me to.
I had one weekend to decide whether to pursue the promotion or not. I started praying Friday night, but did not sense anything clear. I did not feel “forbidden” by the Holy Spirit in any way, nor did the Spirit of Jesus seem to block my path! But I’d seen others go before me into the same role and get chewed up – there was a reason the job was open.
Sunday morning came and I still wasn’t sure what to do. As I got ready for church, I looked up and said, “Well, only one day left, Jesus. I need to hear from you today!”
At that time I led a Sunday School class, and one of my students was a very quiet young girl named Emily. Emily almost never said anything unless I dragged it out of her. But this day, of all days, I was stunned – I could not get her to shut up! She asked me question after question, and the answers led us all over the Bible. And every answer was connected in some way to the topic of “Do not fear, but trust in God.” I orchestrated none of it – I just watched it unfold in front of me.
Finally, we landed in Joshua 1, where God commands Joshua to go forward and lead the people of Israel into the promised land. God tells Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. I am with you.” And I just laughed and laughed. “Okay, God, I will go forward, too.” I got the promotion, and that was the beginning of an important, challenging and very fruitful season of my life.
Today, how about we recommit ourselves to rest, truly rest, on the same promise God faithfully gave to Joshua so many centuries ago: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5). Wherever you go in life, whatever decisions you are making today, and however you are making them, do not fear! He is there and He will be with you. No matter what.