It is really hard to let go of this concept of delays and postponements and planning and the issues that are faced by everyone at some point. We have a North Dakota District Convention this week in Dickenson ND and I have made the statement that these things are usually accompanied by a blizzard. We have them every three years and the North Dakota convention was deliberately set up by one of our Presidents to be the first in Synod because it is held in January and it is held in January precisely because it will be 40 below and delegates will not be out on the golf course.
Anyway I got to thinking about delays and postponements and the Apostle Paul. That knock down on the Damascus Road by my reckoning caused a change in plans that cost him at least 3 and a half years before he got down to what we would call the real work of missions. After that work began, he had to defend himself from folks in the Corinthian congregation because he had promised to come and see them and was delayed. He was delayed by his enemies and arrested. He was delayed by weather and shipwrecked. He had to postpone a mission trip to Bithynia because the “Holy Spirit forbid him to go to Asia”. He had to postpone several trips to the Thessalonians because the “devil hindered him.’ He had to change plans for a trip to” all the cities where the Word of God had been proclaimed’ because Barnabas insisted on taking along John Mark and Paul would not. They had a real argument and Luke said there was a paroxysm betweem them. The best laid plans had to be changed.
We have a picture in Acts of constant prayer by Paul and his friends and followers. Prayers by churches and converts and sometimes those prayers go unanswered or seemingly contradicted. There are fighting’s and fears within, without. Tears and apologies, arguments over a plan to help the poor in Jerusalem; arguments about who should be followed and who really was an Apostle, and on and on. And yet God took all of this and created the most positive, influential and effective missionary enterprise the world had ever seen.