As Christians, we receive a lot of counsel from fellow believers, and most of that advice is intended for good. But what happens when our perceived direction from God clashes with others’ advice? Sometimes we must choose to be obedient to what we feel God’s leading for our life is, and pray others see that we are letting Him direct our paths.
After a spectacular chairlift ride atop Mt. Hermon in northern Israel, I met Susan and her Jewish family, who were vacationing from South Carolina. When Susan was a young teen, she made up her mind to serve in the Israeli army. To her father’s dismay, she was trained to be on the front lines in combat duty. And no one could talk her out of what she felt was her life’s God-ordained purpose.
Similarly, the apostle Paul was determined to be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading even when those closest to him—including people he greatly respected and esteemed—warned him of dire consequences.
Acts 21 begins with Paul’s journey to Jerusalem by sea, from Ephesus to Tyre in Syria, where he sought out the believers in that city. Paul’s team stayed there for seven days, and in that time they grew to love their new missionary friend. “Through the Spirit,” the believers told Paul not to go to Jerusalem, fearing for his safety (see v. 4). It was another emotional goodbye that included the children. (This is the first time children were mentioned in the apostolic church.)
Two days later, they came to Caesarea. Paul’s host was Philip, the evangelist, and his four prophetic daughters, indeed a fulfillment of Joel 2:28. While at Philip’s home, the prophet Agabus came from Judah. In a dramatic gesture, he took Paul’s belt, which was a long piece of cloth that he could wrap around himself several times.
Tying himself up hands and feet, Agabus prophesied: ” ‘This is what the Holy Spirit says: The Jews in Jerusalem are going to tie up the man who owns this belt just like this and hand him over to godless unbelievers’ ” (v. 11, The Message).
Again the believers repeatedly begged him not to go. They valued and loved him; however, they concluded their prophecies were a prohibition, not just a warning.
Their hysteria didn’t budge Paul. ” ‘What are you doing, weeping, and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus,’ ” Paul insisted (v. 13, ESV).
Their response? Quietness! Stillness! Finally, they spoke: “Let the will of the Lord be done” (v. 14).
Like Paul’s friends, do we draw conclusions for our friends and loved ones out of our own discernment?
Susan’s dad had to come to grips with her serving in combat even though he did not like it. May we ask God to carry out His desire in our friends and loved ones, fulfilling His mission through them—even if we don’t particularly like it. And may we say, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”
By: Harriet Mouer, Mid-Atlantic District Supervisor
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