Entrusting our Plans to God
from Michael Kok, New Testament Lecturer (Perth-Vose campus) (email@example.com)
Once when I was a ministry intern, my church was doing a sermon series on Romans. There were so many huge theological concepts to cover! However, I was assigned to preach on Paul’s travel plans in Romans 15:22-33. How could I come up with an inspiring message from these verses? Perhaps I should have been grateful that I was not asked to preach on chapter 16, which is a list of greetings. At least in this latter instance, the fact that Paul names men and women from Jewish and non-Jewish ethnic backgrounds as his partners in ministry sets a wonderful example of egalitarianism.
I decided to examine whether Paul accomplished his goals. First, he arranged to deliver a collection of money to the saints in Jerusalem as a symbol of unity between Jewish and non-Jewish believers in Christ (cf. Galatians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:1–9:15). However, when he arrived in Jerusalem, James reported that some Jewish Christ followers were suspicious of him, for they heard that he criticized the Law of Moses (Acts 21:20-25). Acts does not let the reader know if his gift was accepted. Second, he hoped to travel to Rome and meet the believers there in person for the first time. He did not expect that he would be transferred to Rome as a prisoner to stand trial after he was arrested in Jerusalem on false charges (Acts 21:27-36; 25:11-12). Acts 28:30-31 closes with Paul under house arrest in Rome, though he made the most of this opportunity to engage in ministry. Third, his plan was to briefly stay in Rome and then move on to Spain. He wanted the Roman churches to support his missionary endeavour. There is some evidence that he may have achieved his dream of visiting Spain (cf. 1 Clement 5:6), but it is also possible that his imprisonment in Rome at the end of Acts ended with his martyrdom.
Planning for the future is important if we are to be good stewards of the resources that we have been given. However, our plans are ultimately not in our hands. No one anticipated a global pandemic that changed all of our plans. And there may be educational or ministry opportunities coming your way that you did not predict. Whatever the future holds, God remains sovereign. We can entrust our plans as individuals and faith communities to a good God.