They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.
A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:6-10 (NASB)
I know you were ready to go. You were aware of the incredible need and were committed to be part of the solution. You knew people needed Jesus and you were ready to proclaim the Good News! As a follower of Jesus, you were resolved to become a “fisher of men.” That’s what Jesus said you’re to become and you’re ready to go down that road.
And then it happened. You went out to share your faith. But, as you tried to present the Gospel, you were shot down, ignored, or rejected. You immediately questioned yourself. Was I clear, was I too pushy, did I say something wrong, did I wear deodorant, did I have bad breath? Why didn’t they respond to the message and place their faith in Jesus?
There is so much more to “fishing for men” than simply learning to share the gospel more effectively. “Fishing for men” doesn’t mean that every time you share the Gospel that the person will enthusiastically receive Jesus. Your call to “fish for men” doesn’t nullify a person’s ability to make choices. Some people are just not quite ready to turn to Jesus.
Did you notice in the passage above that Paul was not even permitted to go into Asia to share the Gospel. It was the “Holy Spirit” that forbade him. Was God against the Asians and not wanting them to hear the Gospel? Of course not. But apparently the timing was not right and God redirected Paul to Macedonia. They were ready to hear the Gospel.
Paul didn’t conclude that he was not cut out to be a “fisher of men” just because he couldn’t share the Gospel wherever he wanted. Paul didn’t conclude that he was to stop “fishing for men” just because people rejected the Christ he proclaimed. Paul continued to “fish for men” his entire life. When he came to a closed door, he continued on to one that was open. “Fishing for men” is like that. Sometimes you catch someone and sometimes you don’t. But you and I are to keep on fishing.
Remember…a detour is not a defeat.