Whose Plans?

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Philemon

Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you. (Philemon 21–22)

There is a poignancy to these verses. We don’t know how Philemon received Onisemus when he finally got back to Colossae, although I suspect he heard Paul’s pleas and accepted the runaway as a brother. Paul is confident of Philemon’s response, and we should be too.

What we do know, though, is that Paul never got to use that guest room. If, as seems certain, Paul is writing from Rome we know that he will soon be martyred for his faith. He hopes, through Philemon’s prayers, to visit him again but it is not to be.

There is an ongoing pattern to the Christian life. Very often we plan one thing, but God has something else in mind. Paul thought he had more ministry to give, but God had determined that martyrdom was the ministry to which he was calling Paul.

The lesson here is that we might plan - and that in itself is not a bad thing to do - but all our plans are provisional. We might pray, but God might not have the answer to our prayers which we wish. Peace is to be found when we accept that God is God, and so trust in his purposes. As Paul would write elsewhere “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11). That is a lesson we would all to well to learn.

Keep Watch!

Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake. (Mark 13:35–37) - The more we are aware of the reality of God, the more we consciously live in his presence, the more we meet with God. Jesus urges us to “stay awake”. Don’t sleepwalk through life.


… waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ … (Titus 2:13) - It is the season which prepares us for the coming of Jesus at Bethlehem, but also has an eye on his second coming. It’s therefore a time of preparation and, traditionally, fasting.

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