Changing direction, when my plans are set, is not easy for me. When I decide on a course of action, I want to continue, I don't want to be stopped. It is frustrating.
Acts 16:6,7Many of us experience disappointment. We make our plans - what kind of work we want to do, a trip we want to take, a house we want to buy. We had our hearts set on our goal. We were positive that it was the right thing to do - but we are prevented from accomplishing it. There are unexpected and often unexplained complications. Not getting what we want can be devastating. I remember that it was the same way when as a young child I wanted an ice cream treat or a special toy. Mean, uncaring parents said, "No." This often resulted in a tantrum or a period of pouting. After a while I forgot the disappointment and returned to the assurance that my parents were not mean and did indeed care for me.
Paul and his companions were traveling, preaching the word of God. Their goal was to go out into the province of Asia, but the Bible says, they were kept from it by the Spirit. They changed direction and continued on. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to continue. Their plans were thwarted twice. That night Paul had a vision of a man begging him to come to Macedonia. Paul discussed the vision with his companions and they agreed that Macedonia was where Jesus wanted them to go.
Now, as an adult, I experience some of the same feelings of being unloved and not cared for. I may even throw a tantrum although it will manifest itself in more adult signs of anger and frustration.
Paul and his companions recognized that it was God's Spirit that prevented them from accomplishing their goal. Paul was given a vision of what he was called to do. That seems so easy.
When I wonder what the difference is - Why don't I recognize and accept the signs? Why don't I have a clear vision of God's purpose for me? - I have to take a look at Paul. Two things stand out. (Although there are many differences between Paul and me.)
- Paul was completely focused on serving God - not on his own needs. He even found joy in experiencing hardship for the cause of Christ.
- Paul spent a lot more time in prayer and worship than I do and as a result had a closer relationship with his Heavenly Father.
- When I am prevented from getting something I want, I will ask God whether it is from lack of perseverance or because it is a self-centered not God-centered goal.
- I will ask if the delay is because He has bigger plans for me.
- When praying about a decision, I will analyze my motivation. I will ask myself, "Am I looking for God's will or am I simply looking for His blessing on my will?"
- I will increase my prayer time everyday. I will study God's word to improve my understanding of His will and my communication with Him.
- I will be content with where He puts me and will make the most of it while I am there.
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