God Is in the Stops -- when God sets you aside

My 35-year-old Bible study leader went to the doctor for headaches and returned with a diagnosis of brain cancer.

A national and international women's speaker answered the phone at midnight to hear that her godly, mature, Navy officer son had shot and killed a man in cold blood.

A well-educated, popular young man on the fast track to a cushy position in his adopted father's dynasty stands up for what is right and has to flee, leaving friends, family, and job behind.

A prominent evangelist leading crusades all over the Middle East suddenly finds every one of the cities on his tour closed to his ministry efforts.

What do you do when your plans come to a screeching halt and instead of open doors, all you see are brick walls?

What do you do when you're serving God with your heart, soul, and energy, and everything stops because of circumstances beyond your control?

What do you do when God seems to set you aside?

The mighty apostle Paul is the evangelist I referenced in the example above. In Acts 16 we read about him embarking on his second missionary journey with plans to travel the cities of the Middle East. In every city, he shared the gospel, encouraged believers, and strengthened the churches. 

His successful campaign came to a grinding halt when he tried to enter Asia. The Holy Spirit prevented him from going in. Open to consider another city, he and his traveling companions attempted to enter Bithynia. Once again, the Spirit of Jesus blocked his way. Paul was being obedient to the call of God on his life to preach and teach the gospel, but God Himself was opposing him.


Since the New Testament hadn't been written yet, Paul didn't have the counsel of written scriptures. Instead, God revealed His will through a dream. Paul saw a vision of a man from Macedonia begging him to "come over to Macedonia and help us." In response, Paul and his team went immediately to the capitol city of Macedonia, Philippi. There he met a group of seekers who eagerly embraced his message of salvation. Among those believers were Lydia, the first convert in Europe, and the Philippian jailor and his family.

The foundation of the churches in Macedonia, Achaia, and later Asia, became the most important achievement in Paul's active ministry. Out of his relationships with these churches came his most important letters -- Thessalonians, Philippians, Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, Galatians and Romans.

God's stops are as important as God's instructions to move forward.

When my Bible study leader, Billy, accepted his cancer as a vehicle from which to testify of God's lordship over his life, his faith was so radiant that people everywhere began to ask to hear his story. He was invited to share his testimony at a men's ministry event at our church. Over 500 men attended, including his brother, who did not know the Lord. After hearing Billy speak, his little brother invited Christ to be his Savior. More than anything, he wanted the type of peace, faith, and trust Billy had.

Billy went home to be with the Lord about a year later. I wonder how many men, including his baby brother, will join him in Heaven one day because Billy chose to walk through the open door God gave him instead of trying to kick open the door that had closed?

Carol, the women's ministry leader, chose to trust God in spite of the heartbreak of an incarcerated son. Today, not only does her ministry continue to thrive, it has a deeper, richer quality that resonates of hope. Because of the tragedy that entered her life, she is a living testimony that God walked with her through the deepest valley and brought beauty from ashes.

To learn more about Speak Up for Hope prison ministry, click here.
Carol and her husband have founded a ministry that reaches out to the families of incarcerated men and women. In addition, she supplies Bible study materials for inmates who want to learn more about the Lord in prison.

And the young man who stood up for what was right and found himself banished from his home and family? He one day returned to his homeland to lead an entire nation out of slavery and into freedom and faith. His name was Moses.

When God shuts the door upon your plans, will you try to kick it open, or will you embrace the truth that there is a better door awaiting you if you have the eyes of faith to look for it?

You want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.

You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:

• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray? 
• Why have you allowed this to happen to me? 
• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day. Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you.

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  1. So well-written, Lori, and such a wonderful combination of Biblical and real-life stories. You made your point so well! I enjoyed reading this. Thanks!

  2. this is such a neat post!!! I couldn't wait to hear the second part of each of their stories, and it made me stop and think, why do I not have that attitude when I'm going through something hard. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I should wait with anticipation to see what God has planned next!

    1. Great perspective -- that's looking at God, not our circumstances, for our perspective.thanks so much for visiting :)

  3. So well written, Lori, I have to agree with Gail on that. A friend just passed away because of cancer, and isn't it good to know that when a child does wrong we can still have the joy of the Lord despite the circumstances and continue in whatever ministry God has given us. So often in Christian circles we are told that children going away from the Lord is a reflection on our parenting. Not all of God's children were obedient to Him. Instead, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus.I love the story of Moses.

    Thanks for linking up with me over at WholeHearted Home this week. Your posts are always a blessing to everyone who reads them.

  4. Thank you for this wonderful post, Lori. Life can be devastating when we allow closed doors, heartache, and disappointments to diminish our relationship with the Lord. I appreciate the glorious examples you gave of those who chose to continue serving and loving our Lord. Very encouraging!
    I'm a new follower via Thrive @ Home and would love to invite you for a visit!

  5. Visiting from Legacy Leaver Thursdays! :)

    Beautiful post. God's plans are bigger than ours. His ways higher than ours.

  6. Wonderful post Lori! I hope you don't mind, but I would love to add a link to this post to my Inspiration page here:

  7. Very well written. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am glad I found you at Thriving Thursday.
    Have a Blessed Weekend.

  8. Love this, Lori! There have been several times that God has re-directed my plans. His ways are always better, even when we don't see it right away. Thank you for sharing this reminder with the Thrive @ Home community!

  9. Love those stories as I'm looking for my own better door! Sharing to Facebook.

  10. What a great post!!! I remember my dad going through a time like this; he even wondered if God was done with him. But during this season God taught Him lessons that have been vital for where he is now in ministry. God uses the "desert" times - even when we don't see a reason! Popping over from Wholehearted Wednesdays. Blessings from Croatia: A Little R & R:

  11. This is so beautifully written and captivating! God closing doors is not something we typically think of as a blessing, yet they are another way of Him guiding us! Thank you for sharing and linking up at Simply Helping Him last week! Blessings!

  12. This is a beautiful and inspiring post. It hits so close to home for me right now. I made steps of faith not so long ago and I felt so sure that I knew it was what God intended for me(and I still do) but things are hard because of those decisions and I keep questioning myself if I was really following God's direction or just what I thought was God's direction.

    Thank you for these words I really could use them today.

  13. what if all my doors are closed?