Should I Stay or Should I Go? 2 Cor. 2:12-14

Let's narrow in on just two remarkable verses that would be easy to skip over as incidental. In 2 Cor 2:12-14 Paul is finishing up detailing his travel plans for the Corinthians. His travelogue is not just nice incidental detail, like a holiday postcard. He has been answering the charge "where were you, when you said you would come here? You are unreliable, you don't keep your word and you let us down." In other words he doesn't explain where he was just as a point of information, he does it to defend his ministry against the accusation that he lacked integrity.

So he went to Troas, on the West coast of Turkey near the Dardanelles. Nowhere near Corinth. Why there? Because that's where he had arranged to meet Titus, who was bringing a report back from Corinth following his delivery of a stern letter from Paul. He was there precisely because was concerned for the Corinthians and everything that was going on in their church.

Here is the thing I find amazing in these verses. There was no church in Troas, though there were believers. Paul's big passion was planting churches and God obviously opened a door for preaching the gospel of Christ. You would think it was a no-brainer to stay there and preach and evangelise until a church was planted. But he didn't. 

Despite all those positive signs he had no peace in his heart because Titus didn't show. And, by implication, because the report from Corinth hadn't arrived. In ch7 & 8 he finally has peace with the arrival of Titus and the report, but not finding him in Troas he decides to go on and look for him in Macedonia (which turned out to be a much more difficult and painful path).

There was a wide open door and, on this occasion, he declined it. That's very striking. He couldn't find rest in his spirit. In this instance it was because he deemed at this point that restoring the relationship with the Corinthians was more important than planting a church in Troas. That's quite a choice to have to make.

In my experience God sometimes puts really good options in our way. I recall an opportunity to go to help pastor a church that I love and admire with all my heart. I was preaching there one Sunday morning, having a wonderful time of ministry when it settled on me (hard) that I had no peace about it in my heart. Mid-sermon! I didn't know quite why and didn't have any other future plans at that point. Should I have declined them? Should Paul have left Troas? Is God opening doors for you to serve him where you are at the moment but you have a restless spirit and think he might be moving you on anyway? Who is wise to moments like these?

Praise God he is generous with his grace. There is no hint that Paul was disobedient in leaving the open door in Troas. He simply deemed it wise, taking in all the factors, to follow his restless spirit. Maybe that sounds a little too subjective on the subject of guidance, but we all do it. He knew God would lead, though he didn't know where. He knew that leaving the open door didn't mean that there wouldn't be others. In fact it was quite a step of faith, leaving a known, good opportunity for the unknown where there was no such assurance.

The result? God went ahead, Paul met Titus, the report from Corinth showed things were starting to work out, and we have the amazing letter of 2 Corinthians. All because of a restless spirit that declined a really welcome, good opportunity.