If you’re anything like me, you have an idea of where you’re going in life. You’ve sat down and thought about the plan – for your finances, your marriage, your career, your health.
You’ve identified a purpose worth pursuing, defined the steps for achievement, and motivated yourself to go for it!
But what happens when you run into closed door after closed door? How do you pivot when it seems God is redirecting your path?
God’s Will in Our Lives
Sometimes God has to intervene.
Sometimes we’re careening down a dangerous path, headed for a gruesome end, grinding against God’s will.
You know the times – the relationship that is tugging you away from God, the calling you refuse to submit to, the addiction that keeps you bound.
Graciously, the Lord steps in and He (not-so-gently) brings us to the end of a road. Full stop. No turning back.
Other times, we’re doing the Lord’s work, faithfully pursuing a path that brings glory to God. (Or at the very least not pursuing something harmful.)
We’re fishing for men, using our daily life as a mission field, and living by the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule. Really putting all that faith into action.
Surprisingly, the Lord steps in and closes the door, bolts it shut, and throws away the key.
Why would God redirect us from seemingly good pursuits?
God’s Will in the Apostle Paul’s Life
The apostle Paul was no stranger to God’s redirection. Multiple times, the Lord laid out a path for Paul different than what he had planned.
A Radical Redirection
On the road to Damascus, God intervened in Paul’s (then Saul) life in one of those not-so-gentle ways. Saul needed a full stop.
As Saul was actively hunting followers of Jesus to imprison and persecute them, Jesus appeared as a bright light, blinding Saul for three days.
While he had Saul’s attention, God let him know exactly what the new plan for his life was – to serve Him and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Saul was radically one way, had a radical encounter with Christ, and was just as radically different.
A Simple Alteration
Seven chapters later, Paul is pursuing a new ministry. Gone are the days of persecuting Christians.
They’ve joined forces to spread the Gospel from town to town. Paul has planted churches and encourages them whenever he can. Next stop: the unreached peoples of Asia.
Except the Spirit stops him, not once but twice.
Paul and his companions had plans to bring people the good news about Jesus, to grow the church in Asia. These were good goals by any standard! Why would the Lord forbid such a plan?
God’s Plan is Bigger
We’ve all been both versions of the Apostle Paul.
We’ve been in need of a radical experience with Jesus that puts an end to foolish pursuits, and we’ve been brought to a standstill in the midst of pursuing something good and godly.
The lesson is the same in both cases: God’s plan is bigger.
Paul and his companions could have said, “This makes no sense! All the signs point to telling these people about Jesus!” They could have carried on with their plans and probably would have accomplished great things in Asia.
But had they carried on, they probably would have never made it out of Asia. Because they were willing to obey, they were led into Macedonia, launching the spread of the Gospel to Europe.
In fact, much of what we read in the Acts and the New Testament letters come from Paul’s work after abandoning his plans in Asia!
Trusting in God’s Will in Our Lives
Sometimes the Lord blinds us and speaks in a loud voice. Sometimes His still, small voice whispers in our ear.
But we have to listen to both.
Sometimes the Lord revolutionizes our lives, calling us to an about-face. Sometimes He rotates us an “insignificant” 1°, making small alterations to our plans.
He uses both to fulfill radical moves of His Spirit.
However God redirects our path, through dramatic Road-to-Damascus-style conversions or by simply blocking doors, we can rest in knowing His Will is to accomplish something great.
If only we will listen and follow.