How should you respond to God's redirection?
HOW TO RESPOND TO GOD'S REDIRECTION
Thinking about Paul’s travels that took him for the first time into modern-day Europe reminds me of one of my favorite passages on divine redirection: Acts 16:6-10.
Twice in these verses Paul is stopped by the Holy Spirit from continuing on a course of action he had chosen.
Why? Is Paul fighting against the Lord’s leading?
In my opinion, that’s the least likely explanation. More likely is that Paul simply did not know exactly where God wanted him to go. He knew his calling was as the Apostle to the Gentiles. He knew his burden to preach the Gospel in places where the name of Christ was not yet known. The two places he was forbidden to go (Asia and Bithynia) both qualify. Both would end up receiving a gospel witness. But neither place was God’s will for Paul at the time.
To me, this is a great example of how a believer may not always know exactly what God wants him (or her) to do. If the church’s greatest missionary (Paul) did not know exactly where God wanted him to go, how much more you and I?
What should we do in times like that?
What I gather from our passage is that we should work the plans that we have made (the plans that fit God’s call and our ministry burden), knowing that God will direct or re-direct us as necessary. God has works which He has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10); He will not allow His surrendered servants to get off track.
Furthermore, what our passage suggests to me is that God may close one door of ministry in order to open a better one. Paul was thinking locally—Asia and Bithynia. God was thinking more globally—cross the Aegean Sea into modern-day Europe. Divine redirection demands that we trust divine omniscience: we would have made the same choice if we knew what God knew. Through God’s providential redirection, Paul was able to plant churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, and Corinth. What a great open door!
No doubt as you have entered this new year, you have laid out some plans for what you would like to accomplish for God. Those plans may be exactly what God wants you to do. On the other hand, you may experience some divine redirection as the year unfolds.
If God closes certain “doors” before you, do not doubt Him or complain. Worse, do not rebel or resist. Realize that His closed doors are leading you to His open doors. In the end, His ways are always better than ours. Take comfort from the fact that the true and living God is sovereignly redirecting your path to accomplish His ends: A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps (Prov. 16:9).