But as he left, he promised, "I will come back if it is God's will." Then he set sail from Ephesus.
Thoughts for Today:Not long ago my wife was going on an all day Christmas shopping excursion to the mall with a friend, so she asked me if I could pick up our daughter from school that day. I told her, "No problem," because even though it was my golf day, I had a morning tee time and should be finished early enough to make the 2:40 pm pick up time (with few exceptions my wife knows not to schedule anything on my golf day). One of the deals I have with my daughter is that I will always be on time, and when it comes to picking her up I am usually there early, waiting for her.
Toward the end of my golf round that day I began watching the time pretty closely, making sure that I would be finished on schedule. Fortunately everything went as planned and as I drove to pick up my daughter I congratulated myself on another fatherly job done well. You can only imagine my dismay when I ran right into a traffic jam. My time cushion then began to evaporate and rather than priding myself on being early I began to calculate just how many minutes late I was going to be.
As I waited in traffic, Scripture verses from James 4:13-15 came to mind, "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" I realized that I had failed to add the most important qualifier to any commitment I make, "If it is the Lord's will."
In our passage today, Paul demonstrated his knowledge of who was in charge when he said, "I will come back if it is God's will." He may have wanted to come back to Ephesus, he may have intended to come back, he may even have made plans to come back, however he knew that it would only happen if indeed it was God's will. The traffic jam that day taught my daughter and I a valuable lesson: despite our best laid plans, we must always remain flexible and defer to the Master's plan -- even if we don't understand His purpose. (Just for clarification I was only five minutes late that day, but that didn't stop my daughter from asking why I wasn't waiting for her when she emerged from class.)
Questions to Ponder:It's good to have goals, but what good are goals if we leave God out of them? My daughter learned (and I relearned) that there is no point in making plans as if God doesn't exist, because the future is in His hands not ours, despite our best intentions. I believe we all need to add something to all of our plans and commitments; and that is -- if it is God's will. To what plan, goal or statement do you need to include God as the author of your life?