Blocked! (Reader caution)

Image source: see notes
Image source: see notes

If your life is running pretty smoothly right now, take the week off. Instead, go wash your car, check your 401k or plan your next vacation….

Steer clear of certain Bible stories like Joseph, David, and Moses.  By all means, don’t venture near the parts of Jesus’ story when he was fixated on Jerusalem… Might be best to stay away from the Bible altogether or hang around some of the “Happily ever afters” like Ruth 4 and Job 42. Feed your mojo.

If however you are wrestling with a dilemma or two or, worst case, a debilitating setback or death, read on.  All Bible-reading restrictions are also lifted.  In fact, don’t leave home without it.

Have you noticed how much more alert you are when there’s so little clarity while you’re underway?  How about those opened doors that seemed right to go through at first until the path on the other side headed straight to another dead-end?

Are you following a calling or a leading or a sense that keeps coming that you’re headed in the right direction but the road behind you is littered with blocks and detours?  Even though I keep getting back up after each setback, all I have to show for having negotiated prior detours is more resolve.

That’s also my take on the Apostle Paul’s demeanor after being “blocked” by the Holy Spirit from venturing into certain provinces during his second missionary journey.  Traveling through Galatia, Luke reports in Acts (16:6) how Paul was “kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.”

As hard as that setback was, think how discouraged he felt when a second such block occurred almost immediately. “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: 7)

Can you imagine Paul wanting to hit the Pause! button about then?  “Hello, God?  You there?  Wasn’t it you that called me to this journey in the first place?”

It’s not like Paul had an Auto Club Triptik.  With a few trusted advisers, he prayerfully sought the Lord then set out. Just you like and me.

The form or manner of this Holy Spirit blocking isn’t offered, or how it occurred. But we do know that God was sovereignly at work in Paul’s life just as he is in ours.

The block report is penned by Luke retrospectively, after the fact.  Wanna bet Luke wrote “blocked” after probing with Paul about what happened out there on the road?  The retrospective aspect is key for you and me because we come to Paul’s story after he completed his parts of it. Long after Paul stepped out of the story, we are drawn into it.

Don’t you just love how Luke attributes to God the allowing as well as the preventing in Paul’s journey?  Notice also how he felt no further need to say anything more, like no second-guessing of what Paul could have done differently. Rather, the detours are simply seen as God-caused.  Wouldn’t you appreciate your friends and family taking that stance?

Having now been through a few Blocked! episodes, I vacillate between settling for less to avoid another block and a resolve to continue swinging for the fences. Even though each restart drags the prior setbacks along as well, I have this sense that I’m headed in the right direction.

In his book, “Love Does” Bob Goff claims, “God finds us in our failures and our successes, and He says that while we used to think one way about things, now he wants us to think another way about those same things.”

Said Mother Teresa, “I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.”

What she is really saying is that God routinely gives us challenges we can’t handle not because he trusts us but himself.  When we are hooked into him but beyond ourselves, he becomes our fallback, which is exactly where he wants us.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden,” invited Jesus (Matthew 11:28, NASB).  Weary and heavy-laden is exactly what he wants us to bring to the game.

I appreciate Goff’s take. “…I’ve realized that I used to be afraid of failing at the things that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”

Ditto. You too?


Notes: Image source:


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