I have decided that I need to know more about the Holy Spirit. I think that because we don’t know more about Him (It?) we just ignore Him and pretend He isn’t there. But Jesus said that He had to leave so the Spirit could come to us. We are promised that when we are baptized we will receive the Holy Spirit as a gift – as a deposit. The Spirit is the mind of Christ, and He dwells within us to guide and lead us.

Even when we do accept this we tend to expect Him to do things in an obvious way. We expect Him to take away all other options or make the wrong things unattractive. We don’t expect to have to make decisions about which we are conflicted. I also expect to feel good about a decision after it is made. And, while I’m at it I want to say that it always cracks me up that people often say they are led by the Spirit to do the things that they wanted to do in the first place or things that help them in some way.

I was reading this story in Acts today.

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:6-10)

I am not going to even touch why God didn’t want them to preach in Asia. I don’t know. The thing that got to me was that Paul had plans to preach in specific places, but the Spirit frustrated his plans. I wish I knew how this happened, but I can only imagine that it was difficult to understand. While we have only a few sentences about this whole incident, we have to remember that Paul probably spent a lot of time thinking that he would go one place, only to have his plans changed. Then he adjusted his plans, but they changed again. He had to wonder to some extent what was going on. Of course we can see a few verses later that God had something prepared for Paul – a trip to Philippi and the conversions of Lydia and the Philippian jailer, for starters.

The Spirit doesn’t just rubber stamp my plans, and I won’t always like the Spirit’s answer. What the Spirit wants may not seem like it makes sense, but that is only because I only have a limited vision of God’s plan. I am not even asked to approve what the Spirit wants, only follow it. It would be much easier if He would make His will the only option available or the most attractive choice, but that wouldn’t give me an opportunity to grow. So here I sit, asking, listening and waiting, taking comfort in the knowledge that God will guide me and, in the meantime is preparing me in the way that only He can.

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