Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Guidance : disagreements and closed doors

God’s promise is that He will guide us (Psa 32:8) and an examination of the book of Acts shows us how this happened at significant times in the life and development of the early Church. The prelude to Acts 16 was a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas that led to them going their separate ways. One result of this is that the young Timothy joined Paul’s apostolic team – a significant addition came from a negative situation. As they travel on, reversing the itinerary of the first missionary journey they had made previously, they seem to meet nothing but ‘closed doors’.

Their travels appear to have been governed by a balance of two things – strategic thinking and prophetic input. It was not just one or the other that prevailed. When Paul went to any region, he always went to the provincial capital – that was a strategic decision and meant that their mission had maximum impact, with people flowing in and out of such towns. As a result of this particular development the gospel comes to Europe for the first time, through Macedonia.

They met ‘closed doors’ to moves to certain towns. We aren’t told how they perceived this to be – it may have been prophetically revealed. It’s unlikely that they were physically unable to travel to these places, at any rate. Their response to this situation is important. Often when doors close (or slam!) in our faces, we find ourselves frustrated, angry or depressed. We all have times when we feel that more doors are closing on us than are opening.

John Stott, quoting Pierson, says “We too in our day ‘need to trust Him for guidance and rejoice equally in His restraints and constraints.’ ”