I love how God’s Word touches my heart and teaches my mind at just the right moments. Thursday began a Bible Study on the book of Romans so I’ve been doing a little research. One reason Paul wrote the letter to the Roman believers was to announce his plans to visit them after he went to Jerusalem. Acts 19:21 “After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. ‘After I have been there,’ he said, ‘I must visit Rome also.’
In chapter one of his letter to the Romans, Paul reveals his heart for the believers in Rome. He constantly remembered them in his prayers, and prayed that by the will of God “the way may be opened” for him to go to see them. He longed to see them . He “planned many times” to come to them but was prevented. He was eager to preach the gospel to them. Later, in chapter 15, he states that he had “been longing for many years” to visit them. OK, we get it. Paul wants to go to Rome to see the people in the church there. He laid out his plans to go to them on his way to Spain. He wrote the letter to the Romans just as he was getting ready for the trip to Jerusalem.
So Paul was a planner. Having made three missionary journeys (and survived them) he planned where he was going. Of course, he planned them knowing that God was in control and might stop him or change plans at any time. And he was OK with that.
Ever long for something and then begin to think it will never happen? I never thought I’d make it to Hawaii, but once I started planning, bought the airline tickets, knew the lodging was booked, the excitement grew. Just couldn’t wait to go; however, I continued doing the things that I needed to do, waiting for the time to come. I’m sure Paul was that way. Excited about getting to Rome. Thinking about with which ship to book his passage. Wondering when his work in Jerusalem would be completed and he could proceed. Perhaps discussing who would go with him.
And then, something happened. A riot. A beating. An arrest. A Roman citizen in chains. Two years in prison. These were not in Paul’s plans. Another hearing. An appeal to Caesar. An all-expense paid trip to Rome. A storm. A shipwreck. A snake bite. Two years in prison in Rome.
Paul had made it to Rome but not exactly when, where, and how he had expected.
Sometimes we get the desires of our heart in a totally different way than we planned.
Proverbs 16:9 “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”
Remember that when your plans change – God’s are still in motion.