In Acts 16:6-10, Paul had a dream or vision while he was in Troas in which he saw a man from Macedonia standing and begging saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us’ (verse 9). Macedonia was located across the Aegean sea in the territory of modern day Europe. Which means this would have been uncharted territory for Paul and the gospel because up to this point the mission had been focused on the region of Asia Minor.
The following morning Paul shared the vision with his companions and together they discussed its meaning and implications, concluding that God had called them to preach the gospel to the people in Macedonian. They immediately got ready to leave for Macedonia (verse 10).
An important principle regarding how the Holy Spirit guided the apostle and his companions on their mission jumps out from this passage. On the one hand there was prohibition and restraint, and on the other permission and constraint. They are forbidden on the one hand to ‘speak in Asia’ (verse 6) and were prohibited to go into Bithynia (verse 7); but on the other were invited to come over to Macedonia (verse 9). In another way, there was the double prohibition, the Holy Spirit somehow barring their way into both Asia and Bithynia, and leading them to Troas, whose harbour faced west to Macedonia where Paul then received the appeal from a man in his vision asking him to come over and help them.
From this we may learn that usually God’s guidance is both negative and positive. Divine guidance often in the form of doors closing, while others opening. God may be closing certain doors in our lives as a way of refocusing us towards Himself and guiding us according to His will. For Paul and his companions, spreading the gospel in Asian Minor had become the familiar and default and yet God’s plan was to spread the gospel into Europe and eventually to the ends of the earth. Let us stay in tune with the Holy Spirit so that we may be aware of Divine guidance as He closes some doors and opens new ones for us to walk through.
Stay blessed and have a great week!