A few weeks ago I designed a trip that ended up nothing as I had planned. I had scheduled a trip based around a certain group of people I wanted to meet with, but not one that I wanted to meet with was able too or wanted too. I remember the weekend before I was to leave, I sat in the office of our president with tears in my eyes so discouraged and not sure what to do. He tried to encourage me with stories of times his plans fell through or trips didn’t turn out as he hoped or imagined, while assuring me that God had other plans that would be good.
Sure enough, as I worked on “plan B” things began to align and fall into place beautifully. God was rerouting me! That trip turned out to be one of the most productive and profitable…just not at all as I had originally envisioned. But new connections were made, old connections strengthened and I received the single largest gift up to date for our work in regard to ServeNow!
There are times God closes certain doors and reroutes us in another direction. This happened to Paul his traveling companions in Acts 16:6-10: “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
Notice in this situation it wasn’t Satan who stopped them, but the Spirit of God Himself! He had a different direction for them to go than the one’s they first were attempting. So he closed those doors and redirected them to the door he wanted them to go through!
However, the following week after the trip I referenced above in my example, another change in my schedule and plans occurred. I was supposed to lead a team on a trip to India to minister to about 80 orphaned/disadvantaged kids at a camp. Without going into the details, I was unable to go because of certain circumstances. This time though, I did not have the same sense to me as being “rerouted by God.” Rather it felt I was being “thwarted by Satan.” The apostle Paul acknowledged in a particular situation that Satan in fact “hindered” him:
“But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”
There are times that God Himself “stops us” (to redirect us elsewhere) but also times that Satan “hinders” or “blocks us” despite our every effort to get around those “roadblocks.” And so our route is changed not because God is rerouting us but the enemy is thwarting us. However, it is true that even in this God is still Sovereign. And he brings good and fruit even out of these type of situations. For example, Paul would not have written the verses above, which provide instruction for us, had he not been thwarted. And because I wasn’t able to go to India, I instead met with some other people and am focusing on other things that are important and will be helpful down the road.
The morning before I found out that I wouldn’t be able to go to India, I had been reading Proverbs chapter 16. I have been trying to read a chapter of Proverbs a day corresponding with whatever day of the month it is (so that each month you basically end up reading through the entire book of Proverbs). Chapter 16 makes the point several different times in several different ways that God is at work in our lives behind the scenes in every situation. Consider the following:
Proverbs 16:4: “The Lord works out everything for his own ends-even the wicked for a day of disaster.”
Proverbs 16:9: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
Proverbs 16:33: “The lot is cast into the lap, but it’s every decision is from the Lord.”
Therefore as Proverbs 16:3 reminds us: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.”
May His will be done in and through our lives!