Acts 27: 1-2
When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us.
Romans 15: 23
I have longed for many years to come to you.
The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.
In Acts 27 we find Paul on his way to Rome where he will stand before Caesar, the Emperor himself, and face trial.
Look at what Paul wrote many years before to the Christians in Rome:
“I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you…” (Rom 1: 10-11)
Later in the same letter he says this:
“I have longed for many years to come to you.” (15: 23)
It's clear that Paul had always wanted to go to Rome. It was the heart of the empire, the belly of the beast. And so Paul’s desire had been that one day he would go there and preach the Gospel. He longed to spend time with the church there.
This is now about 5 years later and Paul is eventually getting his wish – he’s going to Rome, but not in the way he thought he would get there. He’s going as a prisoner to stand trial, not as a preacher going to spread the Gospel. At least he’s getting free transport! And actually, as we’ll see later, he still gets to preach and lead people to Jesus, even as a prisoner.
The point is this – sometimes in life we have desires and dreams, things we want to do, places we want to see, goals we’d like to accomplish, ambitions we want to want to achieve.
And sometimes we do see our dreams fulfilled, but not in the way we would ever have imagined.
We see our goals reached, but not in the way we planned.
We get to our destination, but the journey to get there was one we never thought we would take.
You see, the dream is free – but sometimes the journey is costly.
The ambition or goal is a good one to have – but reaching it takes much longer and is much more difficult than we could ever have imagined.
Many years ago, on a Sunday night, I had returned home from a church service. I was telling my friend all about it, and I said this: 'Just imagine getting the opportunity to be the pastor of that church one day.' Honestly, I never ever thought it would be a possibility.
Seven years later I got to see that dream fulfilled. I was asked if I would take on leadership of this church. But it happened in a way I could never have planned or expected. By that stage the church looked radically different than it had all those years before.
I got to see the dream fulfilled, but not in a way I could ever have imagined. The journey was totally different than I thought it would be. It cost more and was much more difficult than I ever thought it would be.
Maybe today you have dreams and desires, goals and ambitions for your life. I hope you do.
But ask yourself – how much are you willing to pay?
What are you willing to go through?
Are you open to the possibility that God may get you there in a way you never expected?
He may use people and relationships in your life in a way you could never have anticipated. The journey or the route you take may be longer and more difficult than you thought. There might be obstacles, storms, even shipwrecks along the way.
Remember, "The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps." (Prov 16:9)