When we are seeking the Lord’s guidance in our life, we are often only looking for open doors. “Tell me where to go.” “Tell me what to do.” A question we ask less often is, “What doors are closed?” Often, even if we get an answer that a door is closed, we fight it or feel like we haven’t heard right.
Accepting the limitations that God puts on our choices is an important part of walking with Him. The world says, “Make a plan and make it happen.” God says, “Do what I say, when I say to do it.” Apostle Paul demonstrates this in his journey and how he handled ministering in Asia.
In chapter 19 of Acts, we learn that Paul spent two years in Asia and it says, “all the residents of Asia heard the words of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” Sounds great and wonderful, but if we look back three chapters, we see that Paul didn’t just get this handed to him.
In Acts 16:6, it says, “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.” Paul accepted that limitation and moved on. He continued following the leading of the Lord even when it contained a limitation. Then, after Paul’s continued obedience, the door that had been forbidden to him was opened.
There are areas in my life where right now I have limitations, things that the Lord has asked me to let go of or hold back from. Many, many times I want to fight Him about it. I have many arguments against it, but the usual one is something along the lines of “Everyone else can!” Not the most mature response, I know, but it seems unfair and I don’t understand.
God is so good, though, that I’m learning to trust the limitations and accept limitations or withholdings. Not because I think that the point is to do without, I don’t think that at all. My personal opinion is that God doesn’t ask you do without something just to see if you can or if you’re willing to. It always has a purpose in transforming you.
So far my experience is that God’s withholding something I want or asking me to not do something is for several reasons. One, protection. God knows how to give good gifts to His children (Luke 11:13), and He also knows what won’t be a good gift. Two, transformation. There are times when getting what I want would block him because I’d turn to something other than Him. By letting Him withhold or limit me, I can choose to be transformed more and more as I lean on Him and wait. Three, focus. There are things in our life that we put above God and rely on more than we rely on Him. God wants us all to Himself and will do what it takes to bring us an awareness of what’s more important to us than Him. (Exodus 34:14).
As we walk with Him, let us accept all things from him, both the gifts and the limitations. He is always after our ultimate good (Romans 8:29).