different_path

As I wrote last week, God is a difference maker!  While changing yourself or someone else may seem difficult or even impossible, that is God’s specialty!  Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing about the different ways God changes people.  Last week, I shared how God changes a person’s thinking.  This week, I’d like to share how God can change a person’s path.

In Matthew chapter 2, we find the account of the wise men who followed the star to find Jesus after He was born in Bethlehem.  Along the way, they encountered King Herod, who became angry that the men were going to worship the young child.  Herod told them to bring word to him when they found Jesus, claiming that he wanted to worship the child as well.  However, after they found Jesus, the wise men were warned in a dream NOT to return to Herod.  So, “they departed for their own country another way” (Matt. 2:12).    

God changed the course of the wise men’s path, because He had “another way” that was better.  Thankfully, the wise men heeded God’s warning and took a different path than the one they had originally intended.  We should learn from this story that while we may think we know the best way to direct our life, sometimes God will show us “another way.”  If we will listen to Him and obey, we’ll find that His way is always better!  

The apostle Paul experienced similar situations in which God changed his path right in the middle of his journey.  The first time he experienced a change in path was when he was a sinner named Saul.  Saul was a zealous man who hated Christians and was known for “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1).  One day, he was headed to the city of Damascus to take captive any Christians he could find, but God had a different plan in mind for Saul.  As he came near to Damascus, Saul saw a light suddenly shine from heaven, and he heard the voice of God instruct him to go to Damascus and listen to be told what to do.  God directed a Christian there named Ananias to come pray for Saul.  When he prayed, “immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once, and he arose and was baptized” (Acts 9:18).

Immediately, Saul was completely changed, and he began preaching the Gospel of Jesus.  All who heard him were amazed at the dramatic and sudden difference they saw in Saul, even having trouble believing that he was the same person.  His transformation is evidence that God is in the man-changing business!  God took a man who was on his way to persecute Christians and dramatically re-directed him so that he actually joined the Christians in their faith.  God definitely had “another way” for Saul, but his conversion wasn’t the last time God changed his path.    

Saul, who came to be known as Paul, became a powerful minister for Jesus and went on several missionary journeys to preach the Gospel around the Mediterranean region.  In Acts chapter 16, we find the account of Paul traveling with Silas and Timothy on one of those missionary trips.  As the ministers traveled through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, “they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia” (v. 6).  Then, they tried to go to Bithynia, “but the Spirit did not permit them” (v. 7).  It may seem strange to us to read these words, because what could be wrong with preaching the Gospel in certain places?  Why would the Holy Spirit forbid them to go?  Well, we must realize that while our plans may seem so “good,” they may not be God’s “best.”  In this case, God had “another way” for Paul, Silas, and Timothy that was better than “their way.”

At night, Paul saw a vision of a man from Macedonia pleading for help, so he concluded that God was calling them to go preach in Macedonia.  So, they headed straight to the region and came to the city of Phillipi.  In that city, the ministers experienced a great season of fruitful ministry, establishing the Philippian church that would thrive for years.  Who knows what would have happened if they had not listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit! Thankfully, they trusted God enough to go a different way than the way they had planned, and lives were transformed as a result of their obedience.

These accounts are valuable lessons for us.  If you have loved ones who are going down a wrong path, trust God that He will show them “another way” like He did for Saul.  In your own life, always be open to allowing God to change your path.  He can take your “good” plans and re-direct them into His “best” plans.  God is definitely a difference-maker!  Let Him make a difference on your life today!