It’s the seat you didn’t want to sit in when riding in the family mini van.
It’s the years of awkwardness between 5th and 9th grades.
It’s the finger we tell our kids not to point with (there are 4 others to choose from!).
It may also be referred to as a “valley” – in between two mountains.
Ultimately, it can be an area of discomfort, questioning, and insecurity.
It’s the place the Apostle Paul found himself in Acts 16:8-9.
The first few verses of Acts 16 record fruitful ministry happening throughout Asia, but then verse 6 happens. The Holy Spirit begins to prevent and forbid Paul from preaching the Gospel in Asia. You read that right. God Himself prevented Paul from preaching the Gospel. That had to be so frustrating for Paul. He later wrote, “woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel.” Preaching is what Paul did because it’s what God called him to do, except for in Asia in Acts 16.
So what’s going on?
Verses 8-9 mark what had to be a challenging time in Paul’s life and ministry as he tried to figure out what was happening and what would come after the fruitful ministry they had just been part of.
Here are a couple things to remember when you’re frustrated and in the middle…
God will speak if you will listen.
In the middle of the middle, God spoke. It wasn’t a voice – it was a vision, but it was from God nonetheless. Paul envisioned a man in Macedonia calling out for help. Voices, visions, and supernatural intervention – God is still doing it today.
How do you know if it’s God speaking or if it’s just the tacos you ate the night before? If you’re seeking, God promises you will find Him. When you knock, He will open. If you call to Him, you will find Him.
Here’s the trick: will you slow down and be quiet enough to hear Him?
You have some concluding to do.
The word I can’t help but wonder about is in the middle (there it is again) of verse 10.
“…immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
They packed bags, strapped their sandals, and hit the road on a hunch. No booming voice. No thunderous writing in the sky. No secret message from God. Just a vision of a man in a faraway land, a whole lot of faith, and a conclusion.
If we’re not careful, we will miss giant opportunities God places in front of us because we’d prefer it to be crystal clear instead of a bit foggy. The Gospel is worth the risk. Brave the fog and step out.
There will always be a reason NOT to go.
Risk is inherent with faith. By definition, faith can’t see everything. It’s believing when you can’t see. I could have listed hundreds of reasons why I should not have quit my youth pastor job in New Mexico, sold our house and car, and loaded up my 2-year old daughter and 6-month pregnant wife to move across the country to do something we’d never done in a city we’d never lived in. But the few reasons I had to go overpowered the hundreds of reasons not to go.
A calling should always overpower a career because a paycheck it never worth pursuing.
Are you in the middle between NO and GO?
Are you wondering what your next step is?
God will speak if you will listen. And when He does, don’t hesitate to obey!