(Monday I was privileged to speak in chapel at Florida College. Today’s blog post is an edited version of that talk.)
In 1959 Walt Disney began looking for land to build a second resort to complement his California park. And he wanted enough land to control the development around his next park.
It wasn’t until 1963 that Disney flew over the Orlando area and finally decided on this location. The process of acquiring the land and building the park took 9 years. Disney died in 1966 before The Magic Kingdom opened in 1971.
At the opening ceremony Disney’s wife, Lillian, was in attendance. Supposedly someone turned to her and said, “Lillian, it’s a shame Walt isn’t here to see this. To which she replied, “He did see it, or it wouldn’t be here.”
Who could’ve seen what was coming in 2020? The year began for me as many of you. Lots of goals and big plans. Ironically my preaching and blog theme for the year was “2020 Vision: Restoring our Focus.” But even a visionary like Walt Disney couldn’t see what was ahead. And neither could I.
It began with an email I received from Florida College that Lectures were canceled because of measles. Then something called COVID-19, caused one event after another to be canceled. They all began to fall like dominoes. A family reunion. My plans to attend the NCAA basketball Regional Tournament in Tampa. All my Spring gospel meetings. A preaching trip to Ontario, Canada. A tour of Turkey and Greece. And a trip preaching to England and Scotland.
Since our plans changed, other choices had to be made… second choices. It reminded me of a situation Paul faced in Acts 16:6-10.
Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
Paul wanted to go to Bithynia, but he ended up in Troas. Things didn’t go exactly as Paul planned, but he was able to live with the second choice–which was God’s will.
Using Bithynia and Troas as a metaphor, what was the dream of your Bithynia, and what is the reality of your Troas?
All of our lives are full of Bithynias that never were. Dreams unfulfilled. Goals unrealized. Plans undeveloped. And prayers that appear on the surface to be unanswered. Many people who find themselves in that situation are upset or depressed over the unforeseen challenges and unexpected changes. We want to go to Bithynia, but God says, “No, I want you to go to Troas instead.”
What second choices are you dealing with?
In addition to the issues surrounding COVID 19 as it affects our personal lives, there are others. Maybe job or career choices? Living arrangements? A failed relationship? A canceled dream vacation? A course of study? An activity that didn’t materialize? A health issue? A family problem? Or a financial challenge?
Whatever the issue, it’s not what you had planned. Now you’re facing a second choice. Now what? The author Napoleon Hill wrote, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. “ But whether or not that happens depends on how we respond to second choices.
They are 3 things we need to see.
#1 Some things are out of our control.
The wise man observed that “time and chance happen” to all of us (Eccl. 9:11). Contrary to what William Henley wrote in Invictus, we are not always “the master of our fate” and the “captain of our soul.” We must learn to say as James reminds, “If the Lord wills we will do this or that…” (Jas. 4:15).
#2 The virtue of contentment when things don’t go our way.
A natural reaction is to grumble and gripe over our misfortune. To fume and fuss about a second choice. “Do all things without complaining and disputing” Paul commands. (Phil. 2:14). And “learn to be content in whatever state” we find ourselves (Phil 4:11-13). Even second choices.
#3 God can use “Troas” for His glory.
Paul didn’t get to Bithynia, but instead, God sent him to Troas and through that city, he reached out to Macedonia and brought the gospel for the first time to Europe. The church at Philippi was established. He called them his “joy and crown.” (Phil. 4:1). Look at your second choices as new and unique opportunities to do good. To make a difference. To positively touch the lives of others.
I mentioned how our preaching and travel plans quickly dissolved. But we were privileged to spend 8 weeks in the Smoky Mts and preach 3 times in Cosby, Tennessee. We visited friends in Madrid, Iowa. We traveled out West and made new friends in Couer d’Alene, Idaho. We enjoyed the mountains of Whitefish, Montana, and Glacier National Park. We were asked to preach for the brethren in Kalispell and Polson.
We renewed friendships in Denver. Preached in Grinnell Iowa. Held four Fall meeting in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. And returned to preach in Cosby and enjoy the Fall foliage of the Smokys. It wasn’t Canada, England, or Greece but it was still good.
I don’t know where you are right now in life. Probably many of you can say, I was on the way to Bithynia, but now I’m in Troas.. May we have the spiritual vision to see beyond life’s circumstances, and accept God’s second choices in our lives.
–Ken Weliever, The Preahcerman