There’s an episode of “The Office” that I remember, where two of the main characters, Dwight and Michael Scott, are driving a rental car with a GPS. They have their destination programmed into the GPS, and Michael is driving. They come near a turn, and the GPS tells them to turn right, off the road into a ditch. Dwight desperately tries to convince Michael to ignore it, but Michael in confusion turns right: straight into the ditch and sinks the rental car halfway into a lake.
God’s leading can sometimes seem like that GPS: God, why are we turning here? Surely you mean to keep going straight, don’t you? I think Paul had a few people expressing this opinion to him in our reading in Acts today. In the space of a few weeks he had three different congregations (even with a couple “Words from the Lord”) trying to dissuade him from the direction God had given him. Paul held firm.
I don’t understand how God’s leading works a lot of times, but I know this: if God has given you a direction, stick to it! People will try to talk you out of it, maybe even with sound advice and with sincere concern for your welfare, but it’s your responsibility to follow what God has told you until He tells you otherwise. That’s hard to do: from a selfish perspective it’s scary to step out into unpopular territory and risk looking like a fool. Also from a more spiritual perspective, it’s always wise to listen to counsel and to accept advice. However, the simple truth is that God’s clear leading trumps even well-meaning, perfectly sensible human reasoning, and even warnings of danger are not sufficient reason to give up on that leading. Paul’s example here is a challenge to us.
Fortunately, we can know that God is much more reliable than any GPS. If He does ever drive us into a river, we can know that He just didn’t want us in that particular car anymore!