As ministry leaders, we all started 2020 with well-laid plans. Our calendars were mostly full in January with what we thought God wanted us to do for the year. And that lasted for all of 2.5 months. What happens when our plans get interrupted?
Paul had the same issue. He’d brought Timothy along on his journey as he checked on the churches. The plan was going well as they went through Phrygia and Galatia. But the Holy Spirit stopped them as they started to go to Asia. Acts 16:6 says, “They were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.” Wow! He forbade them from preaching the word!
You wouldn’t think the Holy Spirit would forbid something that important.
Verse 7 goes on to say, “After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.” It seemed everything they had planned was being stopped by the Spirit of God. But…if they had gone to those places, they would have missed out on leading Lydia to the Lord—and having a new ministry partner. They wouldn’t have delivered a girl from demons or given us an example of praising God in the worst of circumstances or led a prison guard and his family to the Lord.
What if the interruptions from 2020 have come from the Holy Spirit? Just think about it. Don’t you think Paul might have thought Satan was preventing his trip to Asia? He was going to preach the word, after all! I would have. But the Holy Spirit made it obvious that He was stopping Paul’s plan. I’m wondering if God has gotten us out of our comfort zones—torn down our carefully constructed box—with the Coronavirus? He has obviously shaken our world to get our attention.
We need to stop and ask God what He’s doing, what He desires, where He’s going, and how we can best come into agreement with Him.
My husband has planned and led hundreds of short-term mission trips and on every one of those trips, he’s cautioned the team members to be fluid—not flexible and willing to bend—but fluid and willing to easily flow with the Spirit of God. It seems nothing ever goes as we plan on a mission trip, so it’s important to be fluid. There have been trips that have been completely changed once we’ve gotten on the mission field. That advice isn’t just true for mission fields. Are we being fluid in 2020 with the effects of the Coronavirus?
I’m sorry for the terrible effects of this virus: the deaths, illnesses, school upheavals, business losses, and the temporary closing of churches. But I’m not sorry that old traditions and walls have been torn down. Personally, the shake-up has revitalized me! I love new things. I love to be a part of birthing new things.
So with the box completely gone, it’s given me the opportunity to think about how to do those new things—or even old things in a new way. It’s excited me to have a fresh vision.
It’s also compelled me to stop and hear the voice of God for His desires in this season.
We’ve all experienced a paradigm shift in 2020. Sometimes it’s hard for our minds to catch up, isn’t it? And Satan never wants something new and productive for our lives. He’d prefer that we die chained to dead ways. I experienced this recently with some weight loss. As soon as I lost weight, Satan began lying to me, telling me that I was gaining weight. He never wants us to step out of that old box, does he? He’s constantly trying to drag us back to the bondage. It reminds me of episodes I’ve seen on Say Yes to the Dress when a bride has lost a lot of weight and still sees herself the old way. She usually leaves the dress shop empty-handed. Why is that? The truth of the matter is that Satan’s goal is to destroy us. And if we have a paradigm shift for the good, he wants to wreck that, too. He is at war with God’s plan for our lives. Satan doesn’t want us thinking in productive ways!
So it’s always wise to be alert to the ways of the enemy and press into God. God’s way is fruitful and full of life—even if you end up in prison in chains, like Paul. It’s in those places He amazes you most.
So what do we do with interrupted plans? I believe God has blown the walls of our life’s boxes down. And just maybe He’s asking, “Would you like to be amazed? Would you like to see something that only I can do? Are you brave enough to follow Me?”