They made their way through Phrygia and Galatia, but the Holy Spirit prevented them from speaking God’s message in Asia. When they came to Mysia they tried to enter Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them. So they passed by Mysia and came down to Troas, where one night Paul had a vision of a Macedonian man standing and appealing to him in the words: “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” As soon as Paul had seen this vision we made every effort to get on to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to give them the good news. (PHILLIPS)
It is good and even necessary to make plans. None of us can live any sort of life without a degree of thinking ahead and considering possibilities. The problem comes when our well thought out and apparently reasonable plans are thrown into confusion. Things happen seemingly outside our control and we are faced with a change of plans.
Which is what happened to Paul and his team. They figured that God wanted them to share the good news of Jesus in Asia. Nothing wrong with that at all, except that this same God had other, better ideas. Sometimes, our good and godly plans don’t come to fruition because God has something better in store.
In this case, the apostolic team was headed for Macedonia in what is now Greece. The good had been replaced by the better. They had not sinned in planning the way they did, but every now and then God will intervene and show a better way. While recognising the supernatural guidance received here, we need to be cautious in assuming this is the norm. We draw a wrong lesson from this if we give up planning and hope and pray for a dream or a vision as some sort of super spiritual short cut.
But we also avoid assuming our human plans are the only options: there is still a place for God to change them, and to change them in an unexpected way. We are to prayerfully discern our future path and take steps along it. We are also to be open to the possibility of walking another quite different path. We plan, but remain open to a change of plans.