Jane’s plans to become a speech therapist ended when an internship revealed the job was too emotionally challenging for her. Then she was given the opportunity to write for a magazine. She’d never seen herself as an author, but years later she found herself advocating for needy families through her writing. “Looking back, I can see why God changed my plans,” she says. “He had a bigger plan for me.”
The Bible has many stories of disrupted plans. On his second missionary journey, Paul had sought to bring the gospel into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus stopped him (Acts 16:6–7). This must have seemed mystifying: Why was Jesus disrupting plans that were in line with a God-given mission? The answer came in a dream one night: Macedonia needed him even more. There, Paul would plant the first church in Europe. Solomon also observed, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the
It’s sensible to make plans. A well-known adage goes, “Fail to plan, and you plan to fail.” But God may disrupt our plans with His own. Our challenge is to listen and obey, knowing we can trust God. If we submit to His will, we’ll find ourselves fitting into His purpose for our lives.
As we continue to make plans, we can add a new twist: Plan to listen. Listen to God’s plan.
All-knowing God, give me the faith to listen to You when my plans are disrupted, knowing that You have a greater purpose for my life.
In Paul’s vision in Acts 16:9–10, the man from Macedonia isn’t identified. However, we learn something about him in verse 9. The word translated “help” (boetheo) means “come to the aid of” and indicates the need for assistance, showing the man needed someone to physically come to him. It seems to refer to someone who doesn’t know the gospel or even how he can be helped.
It’s interesting to note there’s a pronoun shift from they (vv. 6–9) to we in verse 10: “After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia.” Most scholars believe this indicates that Luke (the author of Acts) had now joined the group.
For further study, read The Book of Acts at discoveryseries.org/q0418.