Hand in Hand

Hand in Hand from Refreshing Hope Ministries on Vimeo.

Today I want to talk about walking with the Lord, hand in hand, and what that may look like. He has not called us to walk alone, and so much frustration comes when we rely on our own strength, and our own wisdom. Until we get to know His ways of communicating with us, walking with Him can seem to be very mysterious. We think that if we were like the great Apostles of old, then it would be easier to follow Him. So let’s take a brief look at a moment in the life of the Apostle Paul. 

In Acts chapter 16, Paul, Silas, and Timothy were visiting the churches that he had established during his first mission trip. Paul wanted to go south and minister in Asia. This was not the continent of Asia, but a small Roman province called Asia, where Ephesus was located, in modern-day Turkey. The Holy Spirit would not let them. So they tried to go north, but He prevented them.

Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:6–10 NKJV

Macedonia was an area in south east Europe. Today it is Greece, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, and Kosovo. The great Apostle Paul and the others brought the gospel to the continent of Europe because the Holy Spirit led them by closing doors. The Holy Spirit prevented them from going where they had planned to go. He intentionally caused their plans to fail, and He did not tell them why.

We should always remember that in scripture, the Holy Spirit often guides us just as much by closing doors, as He does by opening them. It does not specifically say how Paul was stopped. There could have been a lack of peace, a word of knowledge, difficult circumstances, or possibly sickness, because Luke the physician joins them right after this. In verse 10, Luke changes the narrative from “they” to “we.”

When the small group arrived at the city of Troas on the coast, they were probably a bit unsure what they were doing there. Troas was not even one of the cities they had planned to visit. Then the Holy Spirit gave them their next step by giving Paul a vision: they were to cross over into Europe and preach the Good News to them.

Until this point in the story, the Apostle Paul had no idea where he was going. The plans that he had made earlier were not working out. He was being met by closed doors, but in the big picture, he was being led by His hand right to where he was supposed to be. The gospel came to Europe because of closed doors. Paul didn’t understand why he was not allowed to preach where he wanted, until later when he was on another continent. You can only connect the dots when looking backward.

We have to remember that we are merely foot soldiers, while only God knows the full battle plan. He is the Boss. The best thing that we can do is to align ourselves with what He is doing, one day at a time, hand in hand. Don’t get too excited when things are going well, and don’t get too disappointed when facing closed doors like Paul did. Something better is just around the corner.

My wife Sylvia and I ran a small computer business for years, and we would have probably retired doing that. The Lord had pushed me into our own business through a series of small miracles. Then suddenly our work dried completely up, and no amount of praying, giving, fasting, or advertising would change it. Our plans were failing, and the bills kept coming. We tried to get jobs and probably filled out a hundred applications, but met closed doors at every turn. Months went by and when we could no longer pay the electric bill, we decided that we would have to move out of our home and in with family.

The week that we were sorting what to take with us, I came into this room and sat down in the corner on a bean bag, where I used to pray. I didn’t have the strength to pray anymore. I had laid on this floor and prayed with my face to the carpet for hours in tears and heard only silence. But that morning, the moment that I sat down and without saying a word, I had an open vision, like a movie screen appear in front of me. I saw myself entering into a boxing ring and putting on the gloves. The Holy Spirit spoke and said “I have prepared you for this day. Now get in there and fight!” By that Friday I was a pastor, and here I am using the skills that I learned along the way to do this.

We had no idea what was happening, but He knew that He was leading us into something new. Every door was closed, until the right one opened. When I prayed, there was only silence, a lot of bills, and fear. Our plans failed, but He soon replaced them with better ones. We would not be here, without having first been there.

Submit your life to God. He will take good care of you. Sometimes you will not understand what He is doing, or why your plans are not working out. Let Him have the final say in your life like Jesus did with: “not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Don’t center your life around temporary things that change, instead keep Him at the center. Live life one day at a time, hand in hand.

You can pray this with me if you like:

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I give my life to You. Use me as You see fit. Whether big or small, whether a lot, or not at all, I am Yours. Please speak to me in a way that I understand, and teach me to walk hand in hand. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

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