God's Turn in the Road (Acts 16:6-15)

It’s Memorial Day weekend and all over the United States people are hitting the road to visit family, take part in local events that honor those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and otherwise enjoy the first summer-like days of the season.

Whether or not it’s a holiday weekend, all who travel on a regular basis know what it’s like to encounter the unexpected “turn in the road.” At times there are detours that require us, quite literally, to leave our anticipated path in order to get from point “A” to point “B.” At other times there are unexpected events that interrupt an otherwise uneventful journey either for better or for worse (think all that the ordinarily mild-mannered Neal Page experiences in the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles).

While our experiences might not be quite as dramatic as what Hollywood depicts in the movies, life can be a little bit like a journey. Things don’t always go the way we expect. As the saying goes, “Life is what happens while making other plans.” Something like that is what happened to St. Paul and his companions in our First Reading for this Sixth Sunday of Easter (read it by clicking here). Paul and company had wanted/expected to go deeper into “Asia” (modern-day Turkey) with the message of the risen Christ but, as we read, “the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” (16:7). It is tempting to immediately continue reading and learn of their “success” once God had closed one door and opened another in Philippi (16:13-15). But St. Luke wants us to linger a moment on God’s turn in the road for them. I expect that there was no small measure of frustration, disappointment, and confusion as they made their way to Troas, wondering what God had in store. Might it have been a little difficult to trust in God’s plan and to pray all the while, “Thy will (not mine) be done”?

Eastertide is a time to celebrate the gift of the resurrected Christ in each of us…a gift first received through the water of Holy Baptism…yet a gift we are given to experience every day—even days when we can only wonder what God’s plan for us in the midst of the twist and turns and dead ends of life might be. Because of Jesus, our crucified—and risen—Savior, our lives have been enfolded into God’s plan. Though change is just as inevitable as our doubts and fears in the face of it will be, we are not a people who are merely lost and wandering. Wherever we find ourselves, we are a people God has sent. Sent to take part (and even be used for!) God’s purpose, and not merely our own.

Let’s find our peace along the way of life’s journey in God’s forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. And let’s look forward—together—to what is coming around the bend!