Good ideas are not always “God ideas.” We see this in the life of the apostle Paul: “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:6-7).
Just as it happened with Paul, a sincere disciple of Christ, it can happen with all of us. We may want to go certain places and do certain things, expecting God to go with us. However, sometimes the pathways we choose for our lives during a particular season may not actually be the pathway of God for us.
Paul had a vision of a man appealing to him to come to Macedonia and help them (16:9). “Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them” (16:10). So, although Paul had had different plans, he and his company headed off to Macedonia. On the way they ministered to a group of women meeting for prayer. One of them was an influential part of the community and “she and her household were baptized” (16:15).
Next, they encountered a demon-possessed slave girl and when she was delivered, her masters seized Paul and Silas and had them beaten and thrown into prison (16:22). This serves as a reminder that we have no guarantee that we will get a pass through trials and trouble. In fact, sometimes obeying the will of God will actually get us into trouble. But God’s plans are always far superior to our own.
In prison, Paul and Silas sang praises to the Lord and witnessed to the jailer, who in turn was transformed and baptized along with his entire family (16:33). And just think, all this started with a man appearing to Paul when he was praying at night, saying, “Come and help us.”
The power of God is always found where the Spirit leads you. Today I implore you to have the courage to say, “Lord, I do not want to live simply for my will. What would you have me do? Where do you want me to go? Let your will be done in my life.” Then watch God do miracles!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.