The story of the first preaching of the gospel in Europe [ACTS 16:6-11] falls into three parts. First, we have the closing doors in Asia Minor, then the opening of the door at Troas, and finally the entry through that newly-opened door into Macedonia. From the contemplation of this record, one great principle emerges, a principle which is true for all time, and for all classes of the Lord's people: namely, that the leading of the Lord is just as real when opportunities for service are closed by Him, as when they are opened. Apart from actually telling the Apostle in plain language that he must cross over to Macedonia, there does not appear to be any other way in which he could have been led, except by the use of compulsion, which is quite foreign to the Lord's method of dealing with his willing servants. There may have been also a need to test this little band, as they start on such a momentous journey. What was the compelling power that had led them thus far? An apparent rebuff would try their temper, would test the genuineness of their obedience, and would indicate whether it was the maturing of their own plans or the ready following of the Lord's leading that was uppermost in their hearts. There can hardly be a greater test for whole-heartedness than to have all one's ardour apparently rejected, to be ready to offer one's self upon the sacrifice and service of the gospel, only to be met with unexplained prohibitions. Yet all along there have been these seasons of trial. Paul himself had withdrawn earlier into Arabia; Moses before him had spent forty years in the desert. Let us remember that a closed door may be the unexpected answer to our prayers. The writer himself can say without exaggeration that some of the things for which he cannot be too thankful have been closed doors, even though they were bitterly disappointing at the time. If rightly accepted the closed door urges us forward as it did the Apostle and his company. Being forbidden to "speak the Word in Asia," we can well understand that there could be no thought of turning back.
- from pages 147- 148, From Pentecost to Prison