The New Testament book of Acts is an account of the life of early Christianity. Much of the book has to do with the Apostle Paul and his activities. Paul — like nearly everyone else in the Bible — is always on the move, going from one place to the next sharing the Good News of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
Paul was always on the move — except when he wasn’t.
Our scripture reading for Sunday from Acts 16 describes Paul as almost stuck. Things didn’t unfold as he had planned. He had planned to go to Asia, but that didn’t work out. Then Paul and his associate tried to go into Bithynia, but again that didn’t happen. So, they went down to Troas. By this time, it’s beginning to look like Paul and his companions are without clear direction, nearly traveling in circles.
However, even when Paul appeared directionless to others, he was still listening, trying to discern the next step. Paul perceived things that didn’t work out as he planned as a “no” — or at least a “not now,” but it didn’t stop him from pursuing his calling. He continued to listen — and to wait for God’s prompting.
You see, Paul was deeply attuned to the leading of the Spirit. And, because he was so attuned, he recognized the call to go to Macedonia. What did that look like? What exactly prompted them to make that journey?
It was a vision that Paul had during the night. A dream. In this dream Paul saw a man from Macedonia standing before him. The man was urging Paul to travel to Macedonia, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!”
What can we learn from this story?
I think it’s that Paul is always in prayer, always listening for God’s leading. Even — and especially — when things are not working out as he planned or anticipated.
This is the kind of prayer that enables us to be more aware of God’s presence with us, God’s leading and direction, and God’s help in navigating the rough roads and the rough seas of our lives. It is also this continuous awareness of the presence of God that enables us to rest easy on the smooth parts of the journey as well.
As we prepare for Sunday worship, here are some questions to ponder:
Have you ever had a dream or other powerful experience that spoke truth to you in a memorable way?
Have you had the experience of feeling called or led to do something for someone else?
What was that experience like?
In what ways do you think God speaks to us, leads us, or calls us today?
I look forward to considering these things with you this Sunday in Sanctuary Worship.
Grace and Peace,