Tuesday, February 20, 2018

God's Providences

"But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain" (Romans 15:23–24).

In the second part of Romans 15, Paul begins to express his desire to visit the church in Rome. He says in verse 23 that for many years he has wanted to visit them, but that he has been prevented from doing so because of all the work God has given him to do elsewhere. Now that this work was finished, however, he hoped to be able to go.

It is interesting to reflect on Paul’s experience because it is a lot like our own and can be a comfort to us. For years Paul had had a perfectly proper and spiritual desire to visit the church in Rome. Yet, though God had given him this hope, God frustrated it repeatedly. Has this kind of thing ever happened to you? In fact, Paul did finally get to Rome, but when he got there, it was in chains.

He states that he intends to visit them on his way to Spain, but he cannot come right away. The reason is he is being compelled to go in the opposite direction: to Jerusalem. Great poverty had come upon the saints there as a result of persecution. The saints in Macedonia and Achaia, however, were sending relief funds to them, and Paul was to be the messenger. The trip to Spain would have to be delayed.

“So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way” (v. 28). That was Paul’s plan. That was the burden God had put on his heart. But there is no evidence in history that Paul ever got to Spain. We don’t know for sure that he didn’t, but we have no evidence that he did, either. We see here not only that God delayed some of the dreams He gave Paul, but also that God may never have granted some of the ambitions He put in the apostle’s mind. If Paul did not get to Spain, somebody else did, and that somebody caught the vision from Paul.

What value do you see in the lesson that God sometimes gives us legitimate desires but then fills our lives with other tasks so that we cannot pursue them? In your further study today, read of King David’s similar experience. Consider how you already have, or would hope to respond if this happened to you.