“They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia and were prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, bypassing Mysia, they came down to Troas. During the night a vision appeared to Paul: A Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, “Cross over to Macedonia and help us!” After he had seen the vision, we immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to evangelize them.
— Acts 16:6-10 (HCSB)
God has His purpose in calling us to a halt. Sometimes, even as we steam along the path He’s called us to, we approach a dead-end, and it makes absolutely no sense at all. To us. But not to Him. Often these dead-ends are incredibly inconvenient, humbling (possibly humiliating), and even enraging… as if God’s defaulted on a promise.
But His ways are not our ways; our thoughts are not His (Isaiah 55:8-9).
The apostle Paul tried to enter Asia, to evangelise Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit prevented them. Even if they desperately wanted to go into that region they couldn’t. They were stuck in Troas for some time, having passed through Mysia. That region possibly held great potential to preach the gospel, but the Spirit of Jesus (the Holy Spirit) convicted them to go to Troas instead, and there to wait for His leading. Having been prohibited by the Spirit to preach into Mysia and then into Bithynia, it appears Paul’s party kept a low profile in Troas, choosing not to preach. They waited on God for an indeterminate time. Then, at the right time, His Spirit spoke: “During the night a vision appeared to Paul…”
Having to wait must have frustrated Paul, although he probably had the disposition to know that God often changes things without warning, and probably delighted in the fact of simply doing His will.
Waiting when we’re called to wait — when all the appropriate doors to go through are closed and locked — is obedience.
God is in control, even as we wait. Even as we struggle to step forth in an arduous season where we feel we’re not only wasting our time, but we’re being wasted.
We are of use to the Lord even in the very place we find ourselves — any place.
We may hate to have to wait,
And loath nonsensical delay,
But in time God does pay,
Incoming is an inevitable date.
God wastes no wait, and uses our waiting, most definitely, for His purposes.
When you wait, wait well, waiting in the joy of contentment that the wait will be worth it, and by faith it will. Better still, wait in the knowledge that even in the waiting there’s a new purpose to be known in this present time.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.