Planning and the Sovereignty of God
But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. Romans 15:23-25 NIV
Note Paul’s intention. He was coming to the end of his third missionary tour and sent this letter to the Roman believers. His plans were to end his current tour by delivering the offering from Gentile churches to the believers in Jerusalem (no doubt mostly Jewish converts). After this task was finished, he intended to continue his ministry to places where the Gospel had not been preached – he was going to Spain with a short layover in Rome along the way. What a beautiful plan! It was so strategic! So aligned with his calling as the Apostle to the Gentiles!
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NASB95 Or, my paraphrase of this passage – “Man plans his ways and God messes up his plans!”
Paul returned to Jerusalem, was arrested in the Temple, falsely imprisoned for two years, shipped to Rome as a prisoner and lived there awaiting trial for two more years under house arrest. He got to Rome, but in a time and manner that he had not planned on. Whether he got to Spain is a matter for the Bible historians to determine, for the Acts ends with his two years of house arrest in Rome.
How do you respond when God changes your plans – your good, righteous, strategic plans? How flexible are you? Are these your plans that you are asking God to ‘rubber stamp’ His blessing upon? Or are you truly seeking to follow His leading and do His will, not your own? The test comes when things don’t work out the way we thought they would. Ahhhh… there’s the rub!!!