6They went through the Phrygian and the Galatian region, because the Holy Spirit prevented them from speaking the word in Asia. 7When they came up to Mysia, they attempted to enter Bythinia, but the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let them. — Acts 16:6-7
This morning I had the privilege of spending some time with my two granddaughters, my cat, and my dog. The cat doesn’t come into this, but the dog does, so we might as well have the complete census!
At one point during the morning I took the girls outside, and I let the dog come along with us. Now Barnabas is not entirely reliable outside. He’ll head for the horizon if you give him a chance. So I watched him very closely. For a period of time he played around in the yard, but then he decided he wanted to head on up the driveway. I positioned myself between him and the driveway, and watched from there.
Now there is plenty of yard for him to play in. But he sat down in front of me waiting for me to move. Then he jumped up and tried to run around to the right. When that didn’t work he watched me for a few minutes again. Then he jumped up and tried to run around to the left.
In all the time we were there he didn’t give up. He wasn’t interested in any other piece of the outdoors but that driveway. He went back into the house a frustrated little dog. He probably thought I had totally ruined all of his fun for the day.
As I watched him I started to think of our spiritual lives, and after a bit I thought of our everyday lives and our ministries. How many times have I behaved like Barnabas, running up against the thing that God is preventing me from doing, and refusing to look at any other options, because I just know that the only joy in the universe lies behind the locked door or the blocked path?
Paul was in such a situation. He wanted to go preach the gospel in Asia. Preaching the gospel is a good thing, isn’t it? The province of Asia needed to hear the gospel, didn’t they? So why is the Holy Ghost preventing Paul and his companions from going there?
But Paul didn’t keep pushing it. He decided to try Mysia, but that didn’t work either. As we continue to read the story, Paul was called to bring the gospel across into Europe.
We have a choice when doors are shut and paths are blocked. We can be like my dog Barnabas and figure the way to true joy has been denied to us. Or we can keep looking for the door that God has opened.
Who knows what God may have for you behind that other door!