They had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia.
If you’ve ever had to drive a twisty country road in the dark, you can certainly appreciate how important road signs are. They warn you about any upcoming curves, and they keep you from getting lost. So when you read in Scripture, you might think that Paul had equally clear road signs to guide him—supernatural ones, that is.
But it wasn’t always so black and white. Paul and his companions had to learn to recognize the signs God sent them. They had to learn how to listen for the direction of the Holy Spirit. It took practice: they might have sensed something, like an impulse to adjust their travel plans, and then tried it out, to see if it was right. Or maybe something outside their control changed their path, and they tried to see how it might be God’s direction. It wasn’t easy, and they probably didn’t get it right all the time. They had successes and disappointments along the way. Little by little, though, they got better at seeing, understanding, and following these spiritual road signs.
God wants to send us road signs as well. You might be adjusting to a new job, raising children, or dealing with a challenge in your marriage. Like Paul, you can learn to see and act on God’s guidance through simple trial and error. Sometimes you might not know what path to take as you face a dilemma. But then, maybe you hear some good counsel from your spouse. Or you experience peace when you consider a particular choice. These are ways God is guiding you.
As you’re trying your best to follow his guidance, you’ll probably make both good and bad turns along the way. Remember, following God’s direction is not like a magic GPS. But with time, you’ll get better at hearing the Holy Spirit and acting on what you feel he’s saying to you. The more you work at listening for and following his lead, the more sensitive you’ll become.
word among us