As I sat in the air conditioned waiting room and thought about what had just happened, I realized in a modern sense that I'd been visited by "angels"; not the winged and awesome kind that gather about God's throne to praise Him (Is. 6:1-3) but the human kind whose hearts are geared toward helping people in distress. And I'd like to say that the rest of the trip was uneventful and worry-free but it wasn't! Just after crossing over the Pennsylvania/Ohio border, the speedometer decided it had lived a long and productive life and died. Four days later, the battery did the same. Poor Jeff, every time I called home I could hear the unspoken question, "What broke now?" This was definitely NOT the trip I'd planned! But, I eventually arrived in Michigan.
Once settled in at my son's house after the tire fiasco, I was reminded of Paul's second missionary journey. Instead of heading east into the regions of Bythnia and Pontus, God redirected him on a westward route to Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10). I thought about Paul's original intention to go to Asia Minor. Had he reached it at that time we may never have had several New Testament letters that Paul wrote to churches he planted on that re-routed trip (Philippians and 1st and 2nd Thessalonians) or Luke's account of the detour in Acts 16. I started to wonder what had occurred that day in June of 2013 which wouldn't have happened otherwise: a 30 minute time of praise and prayer while waiting for the tow truck, being able to speak a blessing into the lives of two helpful strangers, and even the enjoyment of a beautiful sunset since a broken speedometer tends to insure you keep the speed limit!
But more recently I've been impressed with another aspect of Paul's travels. Paul was incredibly attuned to God's travel plans. Yes, he had his own ideas of where to go, who to preach to, and areas that needed to hear the Gospel. But when obstacles arose, Paul figured it to mean there was another path the Lord wanted him to take and he had no problem adjusting his itinerary. Even more impressive is the participation of the Holy Spirit in these plans (also referred to as the "Spirit of Jesus", Jn. 14:26). While it's not explicit in the text, it appears that Paul expects the Spirit to have input so much so that when he sees a man in a vision pleading with him to come to Macedonia, Paul determines this is the way the Holy Spirit is having a say as to where the missionaries should travel next. So off they go to Macedonia! Many scholars look at this passage and determine that the road blocks which prevented Paul and his companions passage to Asia Minor not once, but twice, were most likely VERY disheartening. Their expectations to preach in cities like Nicea and Byzantium were probably quite high. Instead they find themselves traveling through the wild backwoods of Mysia over the coast and down into Troas. It would have been logical for Paul to conclude that Troas was his final destination. It was a significant harbor and had a sizable population. But once again, the Lord reveals to Paul the journey has not come to its final resting place. However, I don't see disappointment over this latest revelation. In fact I look at Paul's response to his vision and see a renewed vigor and enthusiasm. Paul can't wait to see what the Lord is going to do and where He is going to do it.
How excited do we get when our plans are delayed, detoured or even brought to a complete halt? Most of us complain, get angry or accuse the Lord of "punishing" us when the goals or destinations we've set for ourselves don't come to pass. But what if those delays, detours, or dead ends are just the Spirit's way of telling us we're heading in the wrong direction? Are we willing to stop and listen to what He might be saying? If we open our eyes to see where we CAN go, instead of where we can't what kind of conclusion will we reach? I may not have planned to have the kind of trip I took to Michigan back in 2013 just like Paul may not have planned to go to Macedonia. But each of us realized a blessing from the Lord that we may never have had if we'd disregarded how the Lord WAS working. So the question I have for you now is, "Where is the Lord at work in your travel plans?" He was at work in mine. He was at work in Paul's and He's at work in yours. Can you see it?
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre