Compelled by the Spirit
Acts 20:22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.”
In some ways this is beautiful language and yet we soon realise the high price Paul has to pay. He is compelled, meaning he is bound and in chains not to the attack of an enemy, but to the Spirit. The Spirit is holding him and leading him, maybe at times dragging him to Jerusalem.
Have you ever wondered in that constricting place where you want to break free from but cannot, that it is the Spirit? You may weep and complain but the Spirit is leading you forward like a prisoner in chains. “I am in chains for Christ” (Phil 1:13); “I am an ambassador in chains” (Eph 6:20); “I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal” (2 Tim 2:9). These were physical chains as he was held under Roman guard. But the reason Paul could survive these chains was because long before this he recognised he was chained to the Spirit.
A person can survive anywhere if they know the Spirit has led them or is leading them to it. This is not the same as compulsion. A Harvard Business Review in 2011 actually led with the title “Whatever you feel compelled to do, don’t.’ It went on to talk about the short-sighted destructive choices that we make out of reactions and not forethought leading to people asking us, “What were you thinking when you did that?!”
Paul wasn’t reacting or being short-sighted. Paul was a prisoner to the Spirit who was leading him to the city of Jerusalem. “Why Paul? Why are you going there? Why don’t you turn around and get out of there as fast as you can? It could be dangerous. You don’t know what will happen to you.” Maybe Paul heard all of those voices. Those self-preservation voices still exist today. Many have left their posts at that critical point of feeling compelled by the Spirit. Many are not where they used to be. Many have not been effective for the kingdom. Many have abandoned relationships and pressed self-destructive buttons because they just couldn’t cope anymore in their situation and circumstance. Paul wasn’t one of these and though I sympathise fully with these strong consuming feelings, I fight not to be one of those either.
Today, go forward again, maybe one step at a time, it may not be easy and you may not know what the future holds, but compelled by the Spirit you are putting the kingdom of God first. His glory is what you seek, the love for others and the love for God is so much more important than your love for yourself, you are compelled, by the Spirit.