WHEN I JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS
We wanted to come to you – I, Paul, more than once – and yet Satan thwarted us. I Thess. 2:18
What I think are God’s plans for me and God’s actual plan are often far apart. If I automatically assume that all my goals are His goals, just because they appear to be noble, then I will be confused when my way gets thwarted. Is it Satan who prevents me from moving forward or is it God hemming me in order to move me in a different direction?
Several times, Paul wanted to go to Thessalonica but he said that Satan thwarted him. He doesn’t elaborate on how, though I wish I had. But apparently Paul had obstacles thrown his way that were significant enough to prevent him from traveling. Were they prison, illness, even lack of provision for the journey?
I can tell you from personal experience that it’s dangerous to attribute ‘obstacles’ to Satan, or to God, too fast. If I believe that it is Satan standing in my way, I will turn my life upside down to make things happen. I will engage in some prayerful warfare and audibly stand on scripture to remind him of my intentions. When I arrive at my destination however, I will be confused when the move of the Spirit of God seems absent.
It is also dangerous to automatically attribute the obstacles to a move of God’s hand. Suppose with me that I feel led to go to Cleveland to speak to a group of women. The week before, I am in a car accident and experience minor injuries. Without praying about it at length, I could conclude that God is telling me not to go. I submit and try to feel peace about it but peace is elusive.
Behind the scenes, the enemy was on the prowl. His fingerprints were all over my accident and this was his best attempt to keep me home. He saw the potential of God’s kingdom advancing in Cleveland. Because I assumed that God was speaking, I abandoned my plans, when in reality, I should have gone into a different mode.
How will I know which it is when plans go awry? Prayer. God will show me whether to fight my adversary with God’s promises or submit to God’s leading and make a course correction. If I know it’s God, I change my course with peace. If I know it’s the enemy, I engage in the battle with the weapons God graciously provides. Prayer must be my way of life, instinctively. When I look back, what I thought was God’s will often wasn’t. What I thought wasn’t, probably was. Very humbling indeed, and instructive as to the severity of my need for God’s guidance.
Prayer cuts through the confusion. Speak and dispel my doubts, Lord. Amen