When Your Plans Meet Life in a Head-on Collision, What Then?
Acts 16:6-10 (NKJV)
6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Disappointments, setbacks and detours abound in this life. We make plans and see them through. Working hard, praying hard, preparing and moving forward is met with the harsh reality of no, not here, not now. Emotions well up within us and we wonder what we have done wrong. We ask why? Is it some sin that I haven't dealt with? Have I not prayed or prepared enough? Why do others seem to see their dreams realized and I am on this detour?
Perhaps Paul the Apostle could relate. He made plans to preach the word in Asia (v. 6) but was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to do so. He and his team adjusted their plans and tried to enter Bithynia (v. 7) but again the Spirit prevented them. However, when the time was right and Paul was ready to hear from God (instead of making his own plans perhaps) that is when he experienced breakthrough. A man from Macedonia appeared to him in a vision with a simple message (v.9), “Come and help us.” Then the team made plans to go in obedience to the vision, having felt called of God to do so.
I think this passage is quite relevant to the struggle many of us, perhaps all of us, experience. Often enough, we don’t hear the Holy Spirit behind the denials, detours and speed bumps. So, we are left to wonder and second guess ourselves and perhaps God’s calling on our lives. Am I good enough? Do I have enough education or experience? Yet, what if it is the work of the Holy Spirit, forbidding us from going outside of God’s will for us, redirecting us to God’s calling after all? That possibility is awfully encouraging, don’t you think?
If you are going through some tough times, pursuing what you feel is the right course of action yet being frustrated by brick walls in front of you, take heart. You may be going through the redirecting of the Spirit. Ask God if this is the case. Don’t panic. Wait on your Macedonian call even as you continue to pray, prepare and probe the possibilities before you. Eventually, you will hear those wonderful words: “Come and help us.” Sometimes the journey is long, the twists and turns many but the call makes it all worth it in the end. Maybe someday I will hear your story and rejoice with you at God's provision and timing.
Let's pray: Father God, someone out there reading this is really frustrated. He or she has tried to follow You through the paths of this life. A call has been sensed and a direction followed yet he has been stymied, she has been rejected. It is so awful for us humans as frail as we are. Please, hear the cries of your willing servant this day and give direction, give hope and inspiration. Show the reason behind the detours or at least give peace to him and to her even as they go through a series of speedbumps and detours. I pray that your Macedonian call will manifest soon and it will be so worth the wait. We wait in expectation for Your timing and Your will to be made known. In Jesus' name, I pray, Amen.