After a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas sets them on different paths, Paul and Silas begin a journey to check in with and encourage various churches that had been planted. Along the way they come across Timothy and decide to bring him along. Along the way, Paul attempts to venture to multiple specific regions, but is thwarted. Not by his companions, or ranking authorities, or hostile community members. The Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of Jesus, does not allow their group into these territories. Paul had a plan, but it seemed misguided. In the wise words of our very own Dave Deaton, “Paul clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
The pressure to have our lives planned out and followed through perfectly can be overwhelming. There is comfort in knowing the greatest missionary in history had to be re-routed by the Spirit on multiple occasions. Eventually, Paul had a vision that sent him on a new, complicated course. He met an aggressively hospitable woman named Lydia, removed a bad spirit from a slave girl, and was beaten and jailed. Then, a well-timed earthquake from the Holy Spirit allowed Paul to escape and lead directly to the conversion of a jailer.
Dave closed by saying, “The most important thing for us to do is follow the Spirit. It’s not always pretty, and the best of us get it wrong.” Paul had a plan, the Holy Spirit had other ideas, and lives were changed forever. Don’t be afraid to plan and act in faith and with conviction, but do not hesitate to follow where the Spirit leads.