January 2022 : If the Lord Permits - 1 Corinthians 16.5-7
Towards the end of 1 Corinthians Paul writes of his future travel plans. Having written to the Corinthians he hopes and plans to actually see them in person.
'I will visit you after passing through Macedonia for I intend to pass through Macedonia, and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you..' (v 5 – 7a).
Paul was a planner. He made all kinds of plans to travel and visit the Churches. He looked for new places to preach Christ and plant Churches. Paul could no be accused of being lazy or being indecisive. He intentionally planned his life and ministry. Here he writes that he 'will visit' and 'hopes' to spend some time with them. You may have noticed that I didn't finish verse 7. At the end of verse 7 he writes these words,
'If the Lord permits.'
You see while Paul was an intentional planner, he also recognised that all of his hopes and plans were in the hand of God. He would get to Macedonia and then see the Corinthians only if the Lord, by his providence, permitted it. This did not stop Paul from making plans or making gospel attempts. He knew that God's hand would guide him all the way. In Acts 16 v 6-10 we read of Paul and the others making attempts to go to various places and being prevented by the spirit of God. It is then that Paul has the dream of a Macedonian man calling them to come over to Macedonia and help. Paul understood the providential hand of God and how he opens and closes doors for us.
We are not apostles like Paul but we would all do well to have this same attitude of Paul. To say along with Paul that we will do such and such, if the Lord permits. If the last couple of years have taught us anything, it is how easily our own plans can be thwarted. Like Paul we have seen our own travel plans disrupted. As a Church we have seen our outreach plans delayed. In our our everyday lives we have seen the stop start nature of our work or family life.