Paul’s travel to Macedonia in Acts 16 was not a conventional missionary journey, but rather a string of divine appointments stitched together by the Holy Spirit.
Through obedience, Paul found himself on an alternative or unplanned route that brought him to seemingly insignificant people, places and moments. These detours led Paul into a dark prison cell, bound and beaten for obeying the Spirit’s leading.
Having seen the unchanging faithfulness of God throughout his journey, Paul was able to set aside his own discomfort and remain attentive to God’s eternal agenda. His yielding to kingdom purpose positioned him to be used by the hand of God in miraculous ways:
“Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison … called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ ” (Acts 16:26-30, NKJV).
A jailer—a brute, crass, militant prison guard—found the love and power of a life-giving Savior through two men who served a God who leaves the 99 to go after the one (see Matt. 18:12).
As followers of Christ, we, like Paul, will find ourselves being led by the Holy Spirit into seemingly insignificant or undesirable moments when the ministry isn’t thriving, a person’s heart is still hardened, or the daily tasks are still mundane. It’s in these moments that we are offered a choice to extend our vision and recognize the capacity that God sees in simple encounters with those who desperately need to know how He feels about them.
The salvation of one jailer turned into the opportunity to witness a whole family finding Jesus, resulting in an unforeseeable, God-size result, outside of what the Bible tells us.
When we are obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit and we choose to place value on what He values, the earth shakes, doors are opened, and the kingdom of God prevails.
By: Stephenie Madsen, an Emerging Leader Network student who is part of Cascade Life Commission at Westside Church in Bend, Ore. She is the assistant to the pastor of Life Groups and is involved with “Oneighty,” her church’s high school ministry.
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