Leaving Room For The Spirit

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”—Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

If you’ve been a believer for any length of time, you have probably noticed that your plans and God’s plans—and your schedule and His schedule—often conflict. We plot and plan and map out our goals and dreams, but God takes our map and turns it upside down. Why does this happen? Because He has something better in mind. He has something great and glorious that He wants to accomplish in us and through us.

As disciples, it should be our desire and mission to be used by God, to be the vessels through which He accomplishes His plan and carries out His great work. What does that mean? It means being open to His work; it means making ourselves available to be used by Him. If we’re distracted and busy, we can’t hear the Spirit moving and guiding. If we’re preoccupied, we won’t be attuned to His leading. If we’re always on the go, we won’t know to stop and respond to God’s call. We may not even hear the call.

Consider this: Jesus regularly stopped what He was doing to accomplish His Father’s will, to help people in need, and to change people’s lives. To the outsider, these “interruptions” might have seemed like inconvenient compassion, but to God, they were divine appointments.

Remember the story of the woman at the well in John 4? In verse 4 (NIV), it says, “Now he had to go through Samaria.” Technically, Jesus did not have to go through Samaria. Bible scholar F.F. Bruce wrote, “Samaria lay between Judea in the south and Galilee in the north; anyone, therefore, who wished to go from Judea to Galilee ‘had to pass through Samaria’ unless he was prepared to make a detour through Transjordan, with its largely Gentile population.” But, due to the relationship between Jews and Samaritans, most Jews would have taken the long way to Galilee. Jesus, however, was not the typical Jew, and, on this occasion, He decided to take the direct route because He knew there was work to be done.

We also see Jesus take time in Mark 5:21–43 to go with Jairus, a synagogue leader, to save his dying daughter. Interestingly, in the midst of his journey, Jesus takes time to heal and speak to another woman! Similarly, in Mark 10:46–52, the Lord stops what He’s doing and compassionately heals a blind man named Bartimaeus.

Here’s something to ponder today: When was the last time someone’s need interrupted your plans? How did you respond? Did you respond like Jesus? Or did you see it as an inconvenient interruption to your schedule?

In contrast, have you ever interrupted others with your needs? How did they respond? How did their response make you feel?

We need margin and availability. Often, we wonder why God isn’t using us, but we never stop to consider that we aren’t making ourselves available for Him to work. We’re not leaving room for the Spirit to direct our steps. We’re too busy.

Being generous with our time means leaving room in our schedules for the Spirit to work, to move us to action, to direct us to fulfill His purpose. As strange as that sounds, we need to write on our calendars in pencil, not pen. Why? Because we never know when the Spirit will move and lead, so we must be flexible with our time.

Look at your schedule again. Is there any margin? Any room at all for the Spirit to move?