Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bible Study: Good plans overruled

Romans 15:23-25
Jeremiah 29:4-7
When we got married, several people asked how many children we planned to have. Even then my husband and I didn't know how to respond. I suppose people ask the question for their own amusement when the couple with a particular number in mind finds their plans completely upset. We know couples who wanted large families but end up with few or none due to trouble with fertility. We know other couples who wanted small families and ended up with far more children than they had "planned" to have. Yes, there are ways to plan out a family, and most newlyweds have at least a general idea of the family size they are hoping for. Yet this is simply one area of life where it is especially easy for God to change things up on us. How many children...born "too close together" or "too far apart"...adoption...health issues... Our plans may be good and pleasing to God, yet He may still lead us on another path.
Paul had plans for his future, plans which should have been pleasing to the Lord. He didn't expect to visit Rome or Spain for his own amusement; he planned to share the Gospel everywhere he traveled. He did make it to Rome, but he arrived as a prisoner quite awhile after he initially planned to go. Did he ever arrive in Spain? There are no letters of his to or from Spain. That's not a clear-cut no, but he probably did not. I'm not a Bible scholar who's examined the travels of Paul in minute detail, but the case seems pretty good to me for Paul arriving in Rome as a prisoner and never being released. Never walking freely through the streets of the city, executed before another trip as a missionary. His plans were good and probably delighted the Lord, yet God had another path for his life.
The exiles in Babylon were told by God's prophet to rearrange their life plans. They were to settle down and stay rather than expect a quick return to Jerusalem. It wasn't wrong for them to desire a quick return to home. It wasn't wrong that they identified themselves with the land God had given to them and their ancestors. Yet God still chose a different life story for them.
What good plans have you made which God has overruled? Have you been able to see afterward greater blessings from His plans than those which would have come from yours? Have you been able to rejoice in a participation with the Lord although things did not continue according to your plan? (I love this reflection on the privilege of mothering a miscarried child). Sometimes I don't see how a change in my plans could possibly be better than my original. Sometimes I just have to live with the new direction and rearrange my life accordingly.

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