Discipleship // Youth
Your Plans vs God’s Plans
Your Plans vs God’s Plans

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

A very well-known verse, but how do we react or what do we do when we are living it out, when your plan and God’s plan seem to be total opposites.

Why does this happen and how can we deal with it?

To answer this, we are going to look at someone who constantly lived this verse out, which meant his own plans and God’s plans at times were very different. That person is Paul (formerly known as Saul).

Even from the beginning of his story in Acts chapter 8, Saul is first mentioned as approving of the execution of Stephen and in chapter 9 he is breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He had plans to head to Damascus to arrest and bring back any Christians found in the synagogues, and instead God’s plan was to meet him before he got there and see his life totally transformed.

In the town where Saul planned to arrest and harm Christians God had planned for him to proclaim his name.

Saul became Paul and he was an amazing servant of God, I’m sure a vast difference to the plan Saul had for his own life.

This theme continued throughout Paul’s life, as we can expect it to in our own.

Acts Chapter 16:16-40

Paul and Silas have been followed by a slave girl who had the spirit of divination and brought a lot of wealth to her owners through fortune telling. She continued to follow Paul and Silas for a couple of days shouting to those around “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation”. Paul eventually got annoyed by the young girl and ordered the spirit to leave her body.

Paul had just set this poor slave girl free, she could no longer benefit her owners and therefore would no longer be under their grasp. However, her owners were extremely annoyed, they had just lost a slave that made them very wealthy and although Paul and Silas didn’t do anything wrong, they grabbed them both and dragged them to the judge.

Paul and Silas were attacked, their clothes were torn off and the orders were given to beat them with rods. After being beaten they were thrown into the inner part of the prison with their feet fastened into the stocks and a jailer was put in charge of them.

This seems like a pretty bad situation, and one far from what Paul and Silas would have planned.

In verse 25 we see an incredible thing.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

Acts 16:25

First thing to notice is Paul and Silas attitude in this situation. How many times have we felt doors close on us and our plans dramatically, or even only slightly, change? The first thing we do is complain, panic, neglect God or even blame him instead of continuing to praise him through the difficulty.

That’s what Paul and Silas did and what was the outcome? The prisoners heard them.

If Paul and Silas stayed on track with their own plan, the prisoners would have never heard them. They would never have heard praises to God or seen such a love for him on display. Paul and Silas were being witnesses; they were sharing the gospel to prisoners who maybe would not have otherwise heard.

That was part of Gods plan and Paul and Silas trusted him enough to continue to praise him through a drastic change in their own plan.

Things then escalate again in verse 26.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were open and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself supposing the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here

Acts 16:26

God sent an earthquake to the prison that freed each of the prisoners, Paul and Silas could have made a break for it, they could have run and escaped but they knew what the consequences would be for the jailer. You see the prisoners were his responsibility and under the law any jailer who let prisoners escape under their watch had to take the punishment of the prisoner. So, when the jailer noticed the doors opened, he tried to take his own life. But because yet again Paul and Silas trusted God’s plan and didn’t panic or rely on themselves, they saved this man’s life.

And the jailer called for the lights and rushed in and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household. And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.

Acts 16:29-32

The jailer went from potentially losing his life, to having his life totally transformed by God all because of Paul and Silas and their actions in the prison.

Paul and Silas maybe had an idea or plan for what those few days were going to look like, but God ultimately had a very different one. At times it looked desperate, and even unfair for them, but amazing opportunities came.

Prisoners heard the gospel.

A jailer was stopped from taking his own life.

The jailer was saved, his life totally transformed.

Paul and Silas reached people for God that they wouldn’t have had the chance to if their own plan went forward. God’s way might look different to ours, but there is always an opportunity for good to come from it. As our verse from the very beginning says his ways are higher, and so we have to learn to trust him, even in the mess.

You may have heard the example of a tapestry being used before. On one side of the tapestry there is a beautiful picture woven together but on the other is tangled bits of wool that looks messy and confusing. We often only see the messy side of things, until God pulls them together, we get a glimpse at the final picture, but God always sees the big picture, he knows how it’s going to come together because he knows all things. All we can do is trust him.

Paul and Silas had the right attitude through each of the trials those few days brought, they didn’t try to fight against what God was doing but instead used it to their advantage.

When our plans are changed, or when we feel God’s way is leading us down a different path than what we had intended, trust him, think about the new opportunities you have and continue to talk to him.

If what you had planned isn’t what God wants, do you really want to continue down that path anyway?

Written by Erin Thompson

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