When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. Acts 16:7
What do you mean “the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to”? What do you mean in verse six, “having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia”? Stopped. Arrested. “Pause Game.” “Do not pass go, do not collect…” Wait.
The metaphor of a journey is used by many spiritual writers. For many of us, the prospect of a trip brings with it the hope or promise of fun, recreation, rest, scenic views, and new adventures. Paul, however, testifies across the pages of the New Testament, to the reality of a journey that included threats of hunger, exhaustion, lousy weather, robbery, political oppression, shipwreck, and death, and if that wasn’t bad enough, now we read that Paul experienced “opposition” from the Living God himself.
In what ways, do you relate to Paul and Timothy’s journey-ing reality in Acts 16? When have you, or are you currently experiencing, the disorienting experience of being paused?
Three of the traditional practices of Lent, this season of “putting something down so that we can pick something else up,” are fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. At root, they are expressions of paying attention to the present and powerful work of God in the world. This season presents the opportunity to listen, to watch, to wait, to reflect, in the hope that the same Spirit that held Paul and Timothy up, and sometimes asks us to wait and watch, will also invite us more fully into the journey that God has placed before us.
Journeying with God always involves a risky, faith-full movement from known to unknown and back again. I love the reality that this text points to: that we can and do experience moments and seasons of disorientation, but God’s Spirit is present all along the way; that there are times where our best intentions and plans are not of the Lord; that faithfulness leads to fruitfulness.
In Paul and Timothy’s journey, call, and response, we find an example of what happens when we, “wait for it… wait for it…” and find the journey was worth it.