Yesterday, we walked together step-by-step through Romans 1:1-17. Among other things, we learned that Paul had long wanted to visit believers in Rome to impart to them some spiritual gift, that he and they might be mutually encouraged. However, at the time the letter was written, Paul still had not made it to Rome. Paul writes: "...I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented)..." (v. 13).
Paul kept trying to go to Rome, but God kept thwarting Paul's plans. (I am so thankful Paul did not make it to Rome when he first desired to go there - so thankful for this letter Paul wrote while God had him serving somewhere else!)
Although Paul was prevented from going to Rome, he did not sit idly twiddling his thumbs: he continued to pray for the believers in Rome; he continued to pray that God would allow him the opportunity to visit them; he continued to look for such an opportunity; AND, he served faithfully right where he was at the moment.
As we discussed this passage yesterday, we considered implications of Paul's example for our own lives.
Have you ever earnestly wanted to do something - kingdom work, no less - but been prevented? Have you made plans to serve, only to be repeatedly hindered in carrying out those plans? Have you prayed faithfully about a particular opportunity, only to have that opportunity denied over and over again?
Looking at Paul's response to hindered desires, I am encouraged to keep praying, keep asking, keep trying...and then to faithfully labor in the work God gives me to do right here, right now.
The bottom line is: I can trust God with the details of my life. I can trust God even when my prayers have not yet been answered and when my plans do not work out.
So, this morning - Friday morning, September 22 - I began the day with a pretty lengthy list of things I needed to accomplish. Today was going to be a full day, start to finish, but I felt like if I stayed focused and pressed into the harness, I could handle the work load.
I began the day in Romans, reviewing the passage and the things my group discussed yesterday. As I closed my Bible and prepared to jump into the day, before I even got to Item #1 on my ToDo list, my phone exploded. Five frantic text messages from my daughter who had encountered a problem at school. Another, not-so-frantic text from my son, who needed help with his car. A phone call, another text...
My plans for the day had been thwarted. God had other plans for me! I shifted mental gears, grabbed my purse, and headed out the door to address Crisis #1. After my first stop, I hopped back in the car and checked my phone - 11 missed calls!
"Jesus, what on earth is going on!" I exclaimed.
I think God must have been laughing: "Remember what we talked about yesterday, in the book of Romans? About Paul's experience, and how that can encourage you?"
"Yes! Yes! Of course I remember." I shifted into Drive. I can trust God with the details of my life, even when my plans are hindered. By now, things had gotten so far off-plan, so ridiculous, that I was laughing, too.
Today, I did not do the many things I intended to do. That's okay. God had other things for me to do instead. Yesterday's reminder of God's sovereignty and good purposes in the life of Paul - and in my own life - could not have been more timely.
You want to know something really cool? Checking in here at the blog was not on my ToDo list for today. Today was going to be a run-hard-all-day kind of day - no time for writing.
But God, in his sweet providence, shredded my ToDo list before the day was half-started. God had different plans for me today. I am thankful that He put writing on his list!