Question: Have you ever been frustrated or disappointed when your ministry hopes or plans don’t materialize? When instead of open doors you encounter closed ones?
Read Acts 16:6-10
Paul and his companions planned to preach the gospel in certain places but the Holy Spirit prevented them from doing so. Scripture doesn’t explain how the Holy Spirit did this but it likely involved either direct revelation, external prophetic guidance, unfavourable circumstances, or a combination of these. The bottom line is that doors were closed. And since a common human response to closed doors is frustration, confusion, and disappointment, it’s quite possible that these early missionaries had to wrestle with similar feelings. God intervened by providing a clear vision about where he wanted them to go. Attentiveness to the Spirit and a willingness to change brought their plans into alignment with God’s plans.
What do you do when things don’t go according to plan—when you encounter closed doors instead of the open doors that you’ve been hoping and praying for—doors that you believed aligned with God’s plan? Such moments can create a crisis of faith, even causing us to question our ability to hear God accurately. The good news is that you’re in good company. After all, if the Apostle Paul didn’t always discern God’s will accurately, then why should we expect to? The essential lesson is that we need to humbly and continually submit our plans to God, seeking the Spirit’s guidance and paying attention to the doors that he is opening and closing—aware of the possibility that they might lead somewhere different than what you’ve been hoping, praying, and planning for.
Barry has pastored Maranatha Church in Nanaimo, BC for the past 17 years. He spends his days off either hanging out with his wife Linnea (33 years married) or exploring the mountainous terrain of Vancouver Island.