When Things Don't Go As Planned
by Kristin Schoeff
If you’ve been a follower of Jesus more than a few days, I imagine you’ve experienced thinking that you know what should happen—what God plans to do—and things just not turning out that way. Learning to trust that God’s plans will win out, even when we can’t see how, is a big part of growing in our faith in Him.
As I read this passage I was struck by the evidence that even the mighty Apostle Paul experienced unexpected twists and turns as he followed the Lord’s call to bring the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles.
In Romans 15:23-24, Paul told the Roman Christians his plan to “pass through” Rome on the way to preach to those who had yet to hear in Spain. He told of how he longed to come to Rome and enjoy their company “for a while.” But first, he had committed to bringing to Jerusalem a special offering for the poor among the believers there—an offering he received from Gentile believers in what we now call Greece. He believed God wanted the Gentiles who had believed in Christ to be a blessing to their Jewish-born brethren. After a stop in Jerusalem, he’d be off to Spain by way of Rome! Or maybe not yet….
As he made his way to Jerusalem, he was warned twice by fellow believers that he faced trouble and arrest there. Acts 21:10 tells of the prophet Agabus coming to Caesarea and telling Paul that he would be bound in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles. But Paul was resolute, and had vowed to “complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me, testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:23)
And so he went to Jerusalem where the Jews attacked and arrested him. He was taken to Caesarea for the case to be heard by the Roman governor, Felix. And was kept a prisoner there for two years, waiting for his case to be decided, all the while presenting the gospel to kings and leaders, both Jew and Gentile. And finally, after Paul appealed to Caesar to rule in his case, he was transported to…Rome! And then kept a prisoner there for another two years, and once again he “proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ, with all boldness and without hindrance!” (Acts 28:31)
Paul, sidelined for four years from his vision to preach the good news of Jesus to those who had never heard it in Spain, God used him powerfully to reach so many more with the gospel. Paul surrendered to God’s greater call in his life and didn’t sweat the “small stuff” of his wrecked schedule!
Lord, help us grow in our trust that, as we yield our lives to you, you will guide us and fulfill the plans that you have for us, to your glory and to expand your Kingdom.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.