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Saturday, May 8, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Acts 16

I found that I’ve been a bit more nostalgic the past few weeks than usual as I get ready to attend my 25th high school reunion this July. That’s because in the weeks leading up to the big event I’ve reconnected with lots of my old friends via social networking venues like Facebook. The reconnections have given me an opportunity to look back and realize some of the ways I’ve changed over the years.

There has been one change in particular that has been more pronounced than any other – and that change has taken place within just the last five years.

That change?

I use to be obsessively driven. Once I got an idea in my head, I would move heaven and earth (no pun intended) to make that idea happen. I would consider obstacles as merely tests of my will – and try to plow through - NO MATTER WHAT - until the project was realized. The older I’ve gotten, however, the more I’ve grown in my ability to let go of an idea that just doesn’t seem to be working.

There are a lot of different ways I could talk about my new way of being. I could say, for instance, that I’ve learned to acknowledge that some ideas simply “weren’t meant to be”. I could also say that “the timing wasn’t right”. I could also add that “the stars just weren’t aligned”. All of these pop culture expressions are ways of giving oneself permission to pull back from a project.

In today’s passage from Acts, we are given another paradigm for pulling back from a project. This paradigm is spiritual in nature. Let me set that paradigm up for you.

We are told in the passage, for instance, that Paul had a specific project in mind: he wanted to go the Asia province. The next clause of the sentence explained what went wrong with the plan: “but the Holy Spirit blocked that route.” Needless to say, the trip to the Asia province didn’t work out. Paul ended up in Macedonia instead.

There are lots of ways of expressing a similar idea (“something just wasn’t meant to be”, “the timing wasn’t right”, “the stars weren’t aligned”, or “the Holy Spirit blocked that route”). The point remains the same: it wasn’t the right time for our idea to come into fruition.

The question then becomes this: how do you deal with that “set back”? Do you throw your hands into the air and give up; or do you have the humility to do what Paul did – open yourself to ideas bigger than your own and have the courage to follow those instead of your own?

Til next time…

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