The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Paul…

As Paul was finishing up his letter to the Roman church he made a request of the believers in that city. He asked them to: "Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem might be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed" —Romans 15:31, 32, NIV.

As I was reading the last few chapters of Acts this morning I was reminded once again as to how God answered Paul's prayers and those of the believers in Rome. Paul had been warned not to go to Jerusalem, apparently by those who were moved by the Spirit of God to deliver that warning (Acts 21:4b). When the apostle got to Jerusalem he delivered to those in need, the charitable donations he had been entrusted to him by the Gentile believers. Then, he immediately went to the temple. Some Jews, opposed to his message, aroused the crowd and Paul was rescued, then arrested, by the Roman constabulary. He ended up going to Rome in chains.

Not quite the answer to prayer that he requested.

We have no indication that any of this disturbed Paul. He'd asked to be rescued from the Jews—and wasn't. But his heart's desire was to go to Rome and since that was God's will for him, he got to Rome even though it wasn't quite the way he thought it was going to happen.

Being arrested was the best thing that could have happened to Paul. Because he was under arrest and because of his notoriety (the Jews tried very hard to kill him on several occasions) he came to the attention of two Roman governors and King Agrippa. He got to tell his story and preach the Gospel to the highest authorities in the land/ He also got to Rome, where he was able to speak to king and commoner with very few restrictions, all the while being protected from harm because he was constantly under "police protection." Countless Romans soldiers assigned to guard him also heard the Gospel. The last verses in Acts says: "For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ" —Acts 16:30, 31, NIV.

All in all, it was pretty cool!

Paul had a plan; God had a better one. Paul's might have been more convenient and comfortable, but God's plan was much more closely aligned to the mission he had called Paul to complete, and with that Paul had no argument or complaint. We might have chosen an easier way for salvation to come to mankind, if the choice had been left up to us, but God chose a cave in the side of a hill and later, a rough wooden cross. With the Father's plan, Jesus had no argument or complaint. When God chooses to answer our prayers in less convenient and comfortable way than we would like, the attitude of both Paul and Jesus should be a good one to follow: no argument or complaint.

Comments

  1. I am SO glad that God uses His own plans and not our own. It is HIS will that is best. Not ours! Thanks, Lynda.

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  2. I have not been reading nor even writing as far as my blog goes nearly as much of late, but I'm glad I found my way to your blog today, excellent stuff! God's plan is always way better than mine, and I am so much more at peace in difficulty when I look to see what the Lord may be doing!

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