I remember an awkward moment in my late teens when in a moment of self assuredness I attempted to kiss Jess as we walked towards the beach one night.
Things didn’t go quite as well as I anticipated, and after that embarrassing encounter I found myself added to the ‘black list’ of boys never to date!
Sometimes things don’t go quite as well as we plan! We may have the passion or the desire, but it will often come down to the timing (or in this case the implementation!) as to whether the doors open or close.
Paul and Silas had a passion to bring the gospel to Bithynia. They set a plan in motion and set off on their journey. However the Holy Spirit began closing the doors ahead of them:
‘The Holy Spirit prevented [Paul and Silas] from preaching the word in Asia at that time. Then they headed north for Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there’ – Acts 16:6-7 (NLT)
At times we can confuse a closed door with the enemy, however in this case it was the Holy Spirit that prevented Paul and Silas even from preaching the gospel! There can be times that we too can set out to do something great but have the doors shut in our faces.
If enough doors close in front of us we can be tempted to give up. However every sailor knows that rather than taking down the sails down during a lull, they are left up to wait for the wind to blow again. Paul and Silas also refused to give up, waiting for the Holy Spirit to reveal what their next step would be:
‘So instead, they went on through Mysia to Troas. That night Paul had a vision [and] concluded that God was calling [him] to preach the Good News there’ (16:8-10)
Sometimes the Holy Spirit will lead us to take a step backwards in order to take a leap forwards.
It wasn’t until 15 years later that the gospel was finally brought to Bithynia – God’s perfect timing. And for me, it wasn’t until ten years later that my name was finally wiped off the black list and that my next step was to put a diamond ring on Jess’s finger!
Never compare your next step to someone else, but instead follow the leading of the Holy Spirit while trusting in His perfect timing to blow breath in your sails!