Follow the Leader

Paul was a man on a mission.  Why wouldn’t he be?  He was commissioned by God.  God chose Him, told Him what to do, and empowered Him.  Paul committed to God’s plan and got it done.  He was a doer and he pursued God’s plan with boldness and tireless passion.
The sobering truth is God also commissioned us…

Maybe we see Paul as a superhero, or, humanly speaking, a really, extraordinary person.  The one-of-a-kind guy we’re tempted to emulate using the social media shortcut.  He’s a luminary we might celebrate in history books, but maybe not the type we’d ever attempt to become ourselves.  He’s just too far off the charts.  I mean, it’s nice to dream, but we’re not Jesus, right?

No, we’re not Jesus and we really are severely handicapped when it comes to living as He did.  We are “prone to wander…to leave the God [we] love,” as Hymnodist Robert Robinson penned in 1757 (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing).  But Paul, though human like us, somehow took big steps for God – forgot what was behind and pressed on to win the prize God had in store for him (Philippians 3:13-14).
We have not arrived and, if you’re like me, we have a long way to go.  But we can follow Paul’s lead.  He invites us.

Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters,
and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.
Philippians 3:17

When we think we can’t be like Paul, remember the Holy Spirit is with us.  Always.
Jesus had to leave the earth, but He didn’t walk away from us.  He gave us someone like Him – someone who can help us in better ways than Jesus Himself.  He gave us an all-purpose helper named the Holy Spirit.
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: 
it is to your advantage that I go away,
for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. 
But if I go, I will send him to you.
John 16:7 (ESV)

When I was young, I dreamed of running my own business.  A phrase I remember from those days:
Don’t let the start stop you.

When Paul met Jesus on his way to Damascus, he didn’t let the start stop him.  When Jesus halted him with a new mission, he made an about-face.  Others may have refused to believe his new agenda, or maybe even turned up their noses toward him, but Paul didn’t give up.  Instead, he let the Holy Spirit do his mighty work through him, a willing vessel (Acts 9:17, 21:13).

On what new adventure does God want us to embark?

God nudged me for about 6 months before I finally took the step to start a Bible study at work.  I work in a metropolitan area where even talking about the Bible is unpopular, but there were a few Christians in the office who agreed to be part of our core group.  That was 8 ½ years ago.
It didn’t take long for colleagues to catch wind of what we were doing, and to discover I was leading the whole endeavor.  Funny thing, as a result, I was sometimes asked to give thanks for the food at celebrations.  Every time it happened, I was caught off guard, but what a great opportunity to acknowledge God’s presence and compassion in the company of those who may not know Him.

I followed our Holy Spirit’s lead and I began to recognize His interaction.  One day, just hours before our Bible study, the Spirit led me to modify what I had already prepared for discussion.  It worked out well, despite my nerves, and I then realized I was leading God’s Bible study, not my own.  He determines the subject matter and He guides the discussions.  He also ushers the right people through the doors.  He does this through the fruitful work of the Holy Spirit.
Of the many reasons not to have this Bible study, I was uneasy about the fact that some of the members had much more Bible knowledge and teaching experience than I had.  But knowing that it was God’s study and that the Holy Spirit was directing the work, I was able to proceed with assurance.

God has been blessing us in our studies.  With very few cancellations, we met in a place of business some 400 times, and we have no plans of stopping.

But there’s more.  As I continued to follow the Spirit’s lead, God opened doors to other ministries that I’d never imagined.  He’s allowing me to teach as a writer – to some whom I already know and to many whom I don’t.  I even made a few friends through this amazing world of writing that I never before considered as a way of life for me.  How exciting is that!

What doors is God opening for you?
How have you seen the Holy Spirit work through your willingness to follow His lead?
Share your story in the comments below.  I look forward to reading it.

Maybe He’s still asking you to take that first step.  The Holy Spirit walks with us, emblazing each humble stride, as He did with Paul.  While God clears our paths, the Spirit guides and comforts us.  He fills in the gaps, and He does this for anyone who follows His lead.  He wants to.  (See John 14:26-27, 16:13; Acts 4:31; Galatians 5:16-18, 22-23; Psalm 32:8-10.)

Don’t let the start stop you.

Let’s press on, like Paul, and, with humility, let the Holy Spirit lead.  God designed special, prize-worthy paths for each one of us.  Each chapter is a growing adventure, just like it was for Paul:
“So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 
First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem
and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles,
I preached that they should repent and turn to God
and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds…”
Paul in Acts 26:19-20

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