There are many things that can be shocking, such as a precipitous drop in the stock market, unexpected news from a relative and sometimes, God does stuff that’s shocking. It seems to me that most of us don’t like stuff that’s shocking, such that we stay away from this kind of thing or we insulate ourselves, to minimize the exposure.
And yet, sometimes, things that are shocking can help us to get out of a rut. For example, I think Jesus was very shocking to the religious establishment in His day. Indeed, He challenged not only their assumptions and traditions, but also their practices and daily interactions:
He ate with sinners.
He associated with tax collectors.
He kept company with the irresuptable.
All of these actions of Jesus were very shocking to various upstanding citizens. And yet what is more importance than the shock value, is the reality that Jesus did all of these “crazy things”, from the premise and core motivation of genuine love. Sometimes, genuine love is the essence of shock value 🙂
“It’s not supposed to be like that!!” I’ve been reading in Acts about Peter going to Cornelius, a Gentile, ministering to his household & the outpouring of Holy Spirit on these Gentiles. The Jewish believers initially had a difficult time accepting this new reality with the Gentiles. Nonetheless, despite what the Jews expected, God didn’t stay in their confined expectations.
And I would encourage you & me to remember that God defies impossible. And it’s not uncommon for God to do what we don’t expect, answering prayers in often surprising & fun ways. Let’s also keep in mind that God doesn’t often conform to our limits & boxes. We would be wise to follow God’s leadership rather than trying to define or limit God 🙂
SURPRISE!!!! Some of us like surprises & some of us, not so much. It’s also true that our response to surprises can depend on what the surprise is.
With Jesus’ birth, there were lots of associated surprises:
angels appearing to shepherds at night in the field,
Gabriel’s announcements to Zacharias & Mary about the upcoming supernatural births,
wisemen showing up to give kingly gifts to a seemingly common baby,
Joseph getting the surprise announcement that his fiancé was pregnant.
Let’s consider that surprises can be incredibly good, when we keep our eyes on Jesus, knowing that He loves us & is working in all things, even surprises, to work together for our Good, Romans 8:28-29.
Have you ever made a plan only to find it go array? I have a friend who set a long term goal, worked diligently toward that goal for many years & now it seems like their efforts have completely unraveled & failed. Of course this can be super discouraging & when this kind of thing happens, we find ourselves on shaky footing & uncertain where to go or what to do.
So what should we do when our plans go array? Here are a few suggestions:
Step back & re-evaluate: sometimes a perspective adjustment can help us see a broader point of view & thereby improve our decisions
Seek God: if a crisis makes us seek God more than the crisis is good; if we don’t seek God more in a crisis, then the crisis can get infinitely worse
Who am I? A crisis often forces us to look at ourselves with greater clarity & objectivity. In this pause, the Holy Spirit can work on our character & shape us to be more Christ-like
Keep going & growing: don’t let detoured plans poison your thinking into quitting. Get up, brush yourself off, learn & keep going.
Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know that could be going through a course correction season 🙂
We have all had our share of setbacks & mishaps, no matter if you’re the best or worst planner in the world. When something bad happens that you didn’t expect, it’s not the time to have a melt down. In fact, in the face of adveristy & setbacks, it’s often the best time to test your grit & resilience.
For example, this morning I read about how Jesus delivered two men from demonic possession & instead of their town being excited about such wonderful news, the town turned out to demand that Jesus leave their vicinity. While the town’s rejection could have been framed as a debilitating setback, Jesus chose to move on to the next town. The town’s rejection didn’t affect His identity.
Don’t let setbacks, rejections, shortfalls or the unexpected poison your soul. Get up & keep going because Gal 6:9 says that we’ll receive a reward if we don’t quit or give up! Don’t forget that Heavenly Help can be extremely helpful with strengthening your soul!
Prison doesn’t sound appealing to me from any perspective. So thinking that God uses prison for good outcomes seems counterintuitive, full stop. Nonetheless, I read this morning about how Paul was put in prison & I remembered how Joseph was also imprisoned for some years. During the imprisonment season for both of these men, some really amazing things happened. Paul wrote heaps of letters, called epistles, to various churches which we can read today. During Paul’s imprisonment, he was also able to share about Jesus to some highly influential leaders, including Nero, the Emperor of the Roman Empire. With Joseph, he practiced his administration & leadership skills, as well as sharpening his dream interpretation abilities.
Let’s be clear that God uses all kinds of scenarios for divine outcomes: imprisonment, hardship, deprivation and not just our physical comfort ,)
So let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be successful regardless of our situation & remember that Sunday is Pentecost!! 🙂
When I was growing up, my dad didn’t really like surprises, even if they were pleasant. I remember a few occasions where I surprised him with something good & while he was grateful for me being thoughtful, it still wasn’t really appreciated because it was a surprise. In his mind, surprises weren’t good.
In my mind, however, I generally like surprises because I think of them as adventures & an adventure is almost always high grade fun for me.
Something that always helps me with surprises, whether they’re good of bad, is that nothing surprises God. Because God is all-knowling, there’s no surprise that can catch God off guard. Furthermore, God doesn’t make a Plan B when something seems to go wrong.
We can trust that nothing catches God by surprise & that God loves us far more than we could ever comprehend. These two truths work great rest into my heart & I hope into your heart as well over this weekend 🙂
I read this morning about how Samuel was working on picking the next king for Israel after Saul & was being introduced to Jesse’s sons, from the oldest to the youngest. When Samuel first met Jesse’s oldest son, Samuel thought he was a shew-in, but God quickly corrected Samuel & told him not to make decisions based on external appearances – God looks at the heart & isn’t influenced by what’s on the outside (tall, handsome, suave, etc). After meeting supposedly all of Jesse’s sons, Samuel didn’t pick any of them. Finally, Jesse mentioned that his last son, the smallest & maybe the least likely or eligible, was out herding sheep. Once they brought in David, Samuel knew he was to be the next king. David was the least likely & seemingly most ineligible – tiny but mighty. In my mind, tiny by mighty, was often a theme in David’s life (Goliath, fighting the Philistines, running from Saul, overcoming Absalom’s treachery & more). Tiny can most certainly be mighty 🙂
We’ve taken a few days of vacation with Thanksgiving & it’s super great to have some fun family time 🙂
Last night I was putting my son to bed & the lights were out so I couldn’t see very well. As we finished praying, I went to straighten out the blanket & saw what I thought was a toy, with like a handle. When I went to pick it up, to move it off the bed, I flashed it through a small strip of light & it was a dead, dried up mouse!!! I of course jumped & semi-freaked out because I wasn’t expecting to find nor fish out a dried mouse from my son’s bed!! My son wanted to know what was wrong w me, but I’m waiting until we are done w our vacation to update him on his disappointed sleeping friend ,)