There invariably will come a time in our spiritual journey when the LORD will solicit our cooperation in permitting Him to guide us in a new way. His preference is that we would sense His leading, fully cooperate, and move in the new direction. However, as is all too often the case, God must intervene in the affairs of our lives due to the fact that we are comfortable and entrenched in our present course of action.
To secure our attention and point us in the way He desires, there are strategies the Lord employs that are very effective in dislodging us from entrenchment. As much as we are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), we must be even more knowledgeable of the ways of the Lord (Psalm 25:4). Knowing God’s ways will result in us experiencing His mighty acts (Psalm 103:7).
Over the next few weeks we will examine three ways the Holy Spirit operates when God wants to move us in a new direction. The first strategy we will review is the disruption of plans.
DISRUPTION OF OUR PLANS
Paul had received an apostolic commission to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. In keeping with his mandate, he targeted key cities in the Roman Empire to visit. Yet, the New Testament narrative informs us that he was not able to fulfill his objective at this particular time because God saw fit to stop him! “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” (Acts 16:6-7, NIV).
Like the apostle, perhaps you have experienced something similar. You were heading down a certain roadway while attempting to do the will of the Lord and you ended up “hitting a wall” and you were stopped in your tracks. From that point on, no matter how hard you worked, you were incapable of making significant progress. Initiatives and projects that were originally inspired by a lofty vision and deep passion ended up languishing, some of them even terminating.
When stuck at an impasse, it is a natural tendency to return to familiar surroundings. We see this in the lives of the disciples after Jesus’ death. They went back to fishing even though they had clearly been mandated to forsake their vocation and follow Christ (See Luke 5:10-11; John 21:3). Because they were commercial fishermen, there may even have been economic motives behind their actions. Nevertheless, we see clearly that there was no lasting provision and no permanent peace in returning to past environments.
When God leads us out of a place of familiarity and the way forward is blocked, what is the solution?
There are some breakthroughs reserved for us that can only be accessed through prayer. We must seek God until we receive a clear answer from heaven. Whether it was Paul’s night vision of the man in Macedonia summoning him or the voice of Jesus speaking to the disciples on the seashore in Galilee, the New Testament followers of Christ received clear direction from the Spirit and were able to regain momentum and experience breakthrough. In order to experience the same. we must firstly be convinced that the Father wants to lead us forward into His purposes. “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you'” (Psalm 32:8, New Living Translation).