Paul–Heading Off in the Wrong Direction–Acts 16:6-10

God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.

In our last post from the book of Acts, we looked at the rights of Christians, and the rights of Christ, and the rights of Timothy. And we explored the reason behind why Timothy allowed himself to be circumcised. If you’re interested you can learn more here: The Birth of Jesus and Jesus’ Rights — Luke 2:1-21 (and Acts 16:1-5).

In today’s post we’re going to see how Paul headed off in a wrong direction.

Acts 16:6-10

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Acts 16:6-10

So Paul heads off to Asia. But when he tries to go into Bithynia (a country inside of Asia) “the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” to proceed. So they go down to Troas where Paul has a vision: a Macedonian man urges Paul to come to Macedonia and help the people there.

Immediately after the vision Paul starts figuring out how to go on into Macedonia because he concludes that God called them to preach the gospel to the Macedonians.

Heading Off in the Wrong Direction

So here’s the thing about what Paul does in today’s passage. He just starts moving — toward Asia, specifically Bithynia. And it turns out to be the wrong direction. And the Spirit of Jesus stops him.

Does that mean Paul was wrong to just start moving like that? Was Paul in error? Did he sin? Should he have waited to hear from the Lord before choosing a direction?

Look, I’m not going to say it’s a bad thing to pray for God’s direction. I’m guessing Paul, the man who said we should pray without ceasing, was praying for God’s direction every day leading up to the start of his journey and every day along the way. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) But what I am saying is that I think it’s spectacular that Paul took the initiative to try something.

Trystorming

One of the guys in my Saturday morning prayer group happens to be the wisest person I know when it comes to getting things done. A few Saturdays ago I heard him use a term I never heard before: trystorming. It’s a simple term. You probably already guessed what it means. It’s just like brainstorming except instead of just making a list of ideas, it’s trying ideas, it’s doing, doing different ideas, a bunch of times, just to see what will work.

Trystorming might be a new term but it’s not a new concept. I’m sure you’ve heard the illustrations before: You can’t fly an airplane if it stays in the hangar. Boats weren’t made to stay in the harbor, they were made for voyages out on the open water. You can’t steer a car that’s sitting in the driveway, the car has to be moving.

I’m not sure humankind has ever experienced a time when this particular bit of wisdom has been more important. I know, for me at least, I can feel the pull of remaining safely in the little cocoon that is my home. We were all locked down inside our houses for a few years there during COVID. Most of us have experienced isolation and a general lack of movement outside our homes in greater measure than ever before. The pattern is well established for many of us.

And then there’s the ease with which we can research. With the information of the world instantly available, we can fall into a pattern of researching at the expense of trying things.

The Most Successful People

But here’s the thing. The most successful people I know, most successful at loving God and people, most successful at doing things for His Kingdom, and even most successful vocationally, the most successful people I know, they move.

They move in a direction.

They start things.

Like Paul, the Spirit of Christ may change their direction, but they have momentum. It’s easier to redirect with momentum than it is to start from a standstill. It’s a Newton’s first law of motion thing.

The most successful people I know are skilled at researching on the internet, and, they also try things outside of the walls of their home. They’re intentional about creating in person encounters with people.

So Paul — turns out he was a bit of a trystormer.

I hope I can become more of a trystormer too.

“Father, please fill me and the dear person reading this right now with the Spirit of Jesus and lead each one of us in the direction you desire for each of us. Also, help us to be still in Your presence when You want us to be still. And inspire us to move when You want us to move. Fill us with courage to try things for You, the way Paul did, even if it might mean You will change our direction later.

“Have mercy on us Father, we’re sinners.

“Fill us with the inspiration, energy, and wisdom of Your Spirit.

“Fill us with Jesus in a way that inspires us to move out into the world for You.

“In Jesus’ name we ask this of You.

“Amen.”

Notes:

Image of man walking out the door via woodleywonderworks — Creative Commons

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