Paul tossed restlessly through the night. He had been wanting to forge new territory for a while, now, trying several times to lead his team towards the province of Asia. Yet each time, the Holy Spirit had blocked their way. Frustrated, perplexed, unnerved, Paul perceived the difference between spiritual opposition and God’s prevention. He was trying to serve the Lord with all he had, but it was the Lord Who kept standing in his way. Why?
So, Paul and his companions bunked down for the night in the bustling sea town of Troas, hoping to get some well needed rest.
Finally, he settled into a troubled sleep to the rhythmic sound of the ocean as a backdrop. Sea air, soothing and cool, came in through the window of the inn’s upstairs room, gentling him into the otherworld of dreams.
Suddenly, there before him was a man, from Macedonia. Maybe he was wearing distinctive Macedonian clothes, or his cut of hair, or accent, gave him away. He was begging Paul about something. In his dream, Paul may have been lying in his bed, eyes wide, as this man stood over him, wringing his hands, with worried eyebrows and a taut mouth. “Please, you have to come. You have to help,” the man pleaded, in Paul’s vision. “Macedonia. You’ve got to come to Macedonia and help us.”
Suddenly the sun was shining through the window and the call of seagulls and fishmongers’ cries wafted in. Paul awoke with a start, adrenalin coursing through his body. Luke wrote that day they got ready “at once,” Paul had gotten his marching orders, and he was going to wait for no man. God was sending them to Macedonia.
They traveled nonstop till they reached Philippi where they found to their dismay a group of women worshiping and praying. The “man from Macedonia” was a woman from Lydia, a region in the province of Asia.
Understanding immediately this was of the Lord, the apostle delivered with enthusiasm the good news of the Gospel, and many lives were redeemed that day to glory. The small church grew, gathering in Lydia’s spacious home. A young enslaved girl freed from a demon joined them, as well as a jailer and his family, along with a few of his erstwhile prisoners. All of Lydia’s household became believers. (Acts 16)
Years later, Paul wrote to them, “how I long for all of you with the tender affection of Christ Jesus.” He had kept in step with the Spirit, and how grateful he was that he had. (Philippians 1:8)
Oh Lord, increase our sensitivity to Your guidance that we may keep in step with You. When we turn to the right or to the left, help us to hear Your word behind us, saying, “This is the way; walk in it,” to the praise of Your glory and grace, and for the good of all whom You love, amen.” (Isaiah 30:21)