“Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him. And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ Immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” Acts 16:3,6-10
Paul was on a mission, to take the gospel with whom and where God led him. His spirit was attuned to His Master, and He followed with eager willingness and flexibility. He scooped up a new mentee, Timothy, who grew under his tutelage and became a strong leader. He traveled with a small company that included Silas and Luke, at God’s direction, giving up his plans for the divine ones, and he witnessed the Lord. Upon arriving in the Roman colony and leading city of Philippi, he waited some days and found his ministry not with the city leaders, but “outside the gate at the riverside,” with women. The Lord opened the heart of a woman named Lydia, and they healed an annoying slave girl; then they were dragged, stripped, beaten, and imprisoned. Not exactly a glamorous mission trip, and very likely not what they had anticipated, but a yielded servant knows his master’s voice, and rejoices in following.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.’ And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.”
God’s plans are always good. They may not look like ours, and they may lead us to unexpected, even unwelcome places. But when we follow His lead, we can rejoice that He is in charge of us and all the results of ministry.
Father and Guide, Your way is perfect and Your word proves true. Keep me sharp in distinguishing Your voice, and willing to heed it. And keep me singing no matter where You lead, knowing that even my song is used for Your purposes. To You be all the glory. (2 Samuel 22:31; John 10:3-5; Ephesians 5:19-20)