When Life Doesn’t Go Your Way
By: Dr. Roger Barrier
“When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:7-9).
Once upon a time there were two missionaries named Paul and Silas. They were like superheroes as they lived out their adventures sharing the message of Jesus throughout Turkey.
I don’t imagine that life turned out like they imagined either. They didn’t get “first best;” they had to make do with second. What they did with second best changed the world.
The gospel of Jesus was roaring through Turkey when Paul decided it was time to go to Bithynia, the largest, richest and most influential city in all Turkey. This was Paul’s homeland. This was his country. This was first best. He hardly could wait.
And then God said, “No. I want you in Macedonia.”
We can imagine Paul on the seashore near Troas looking across the Aegean Sea toward Macedonia while thinking, “I really don’t want to go to Macedonia. Bithynia is my first choice. I’ll just have to see what I can do with second-best.”
In Macedonia Paul performed his most significant service with the leftovers of a broken plan.
Wanting Bithynia and getting Macedonia, how familiar is that? But to take the leftovers of disappointed expectation and to make of it the greatest opportunity that we ever have, how impressive is that!
Every Christian experiences closed doors at one time or other-- some more than others: unexpected illness; lingering sickness; drawn out recovery after surgery; depression that begins to set in; financial reverse; divorce; loss of a job; an unexpected move; disappointments at school or work; discouragements to come from the low times of life; children begin to have deep personal problems; dealing with necessities and other things that demand our attention while the mainstream of life seems to be passing us by; a career where that’s boring you to tears.
Some of you are there right now. What happens next depends totally to you. Let me give you some thoughts about handling life’s second bests:
Don’t panic, no one lives out their entire life with first best.
I believe that God has a life plan for us all. I call it, “Plan A”. But I don’t know anyone who goes from birth to glory on Plan A, all the way. Often, when we get off track God says, “Okay we can get back to Plan A.” On the other hand, there are times when we make choices and behave poorly and God has to say, “I’m sorry,” we can’t get back to Plan A from here. We must jump to Plan B. Thank God he has a Plan B. But the truth is that many of us are living on Plan X Triple Prime. Thank God for grace.
Keep your faith intact. God has a plan for your life.
One of the best tests of a person’s faith is when we see him or her, wanting Bithynia and getting Macedonia, and yet is still certain that there’s a purpose for his or her life.
Editor’s Note: Part of this devotional was taken from 7 Steps to Take When Life Doesn’t Go Your Way by Dr. Roger Barrier. You can read the full blog post here.
The Characters of Christmas is a podcast created to help you take a fresh look at the Christmas story by getting to know the minor characters that played a part in Jesus’ birth. It is the companion to Dan Darling's book "The Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up in the Story of Jesus."