Do you remember being engaged to be married? While it was a long time ago, I remember those wonderful feelings of excitement. We weren’t just planning a wedding we were planning a life together. This past week I saw, “Let it Be Christmas”, a musical production using Beatles music to re-tell the story of Jesus’ birth. It reminded me that Mary and Joseph were two normal young people, engaged and planning for the future, until the unexpected happened. God upended their plans and changed their lives.
We don’t often like the unexpected when it happens to us and I’m sure Mary and Joseph didn’t either. We wonder why, but we get no answer. Sometimes I imagine the disruption is to prevent something bad from happening. Other times it might be to prepare us for the future, to get us ready for what he knows is on our horizon. He might even choose to re-direct our lives to do something more important than what we had planned. If you look at scripture, you’ll find numerous examples of those types of unexpected twists.
Think about King David. He was content to be the youngest son in a large family, tending to the sheep. His future was sheep. But it changed unexpectedly when Samuel visited his home.
So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” 1 Samuel 16:11
In the blink of an eye, with that visit David moved from a future of sheep to being anointed as the next king of Israel. That worked out pretty well too for him too as not only was he a great king, but our savior came from one of his descendants.
Do you recall the story of Esther? She was chosen from among all the young women throughout the kingdom to become the new queen. She now had it all. Then, unexpectedly her adoptive father, Mordecai, asked her to take a big risk – more than she wanted to take. When she questioned it, he responded to her by asking,
“…And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
In other words, she was in that place, because God needed to use her for something more important. In saying “yes”, she saved the day for her people.
Peter was enjoying life as a fisherman, until unexpectedly Jesus came by and said to him,
“Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
In choosing to say “yes”, he had a front row seat to three years with Jesus.
God uses the things we see as problems, to shape us or use us for things we can’t begin to imagine. We think it’s the unexpected, but it’s not, because it happens frequently in life. Our lives don’t go as planned, so we would be much better prepared if we simply expected the unexpected. We waste (I know I do), so much energy with, “God why did you do this to me?” or “Why did this happen?” Accept the unexpected and move forward to see what great plans he has for us.