Like the plot to a good script, we often map out our lives. Graduation. Career. Marriage. House. Family. Add to that—living happily ever after, with a couple of violins playing in the wings and some heart emojis for good measure!
We forget, however, that life happens. In between the pages of a perfect script, one unfortunate circumstance can beckon another to come, and pretty soon our perfectly planned life becomes a disheveled mess.
No doubt Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, had his life mapped out (2 Kings 5:1-14). Successful in his conquests, he was moving up the military ladder, then one day leprosy struck…
Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, and their two sons moved from Bethlehem of Judah to Moab to escape a famine in their homeland (Ruth 1:1-22). The boys find good wives in this new land. Then, within a few years, Elimelech dies, and so does the two sons. This unexpected widowhood and loss of both her sons was challenging, and now poverty was staring Naomi in the face...
Saul, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, and a student of an esteemed teacher of the Law, Gamaliel, was proud of his lineage and his accomplishments (Philippians 3:4-6). He was thoroughly enjoying the notoriety of persecuting or viciously killing or Christians. Then one day on his way to Damascus, he suddenly fell to the ground, and was blinded by a great light… (Acts 9:1-9)
We can add our own stories of how our world was going just fine before the script flipped. And no doubt we’ll say out loud or quietly, “It’s certainly not what I expected!”
What’s amazing in each of these scenarios is how God worked through them to accomplish more than each individual involved could ever have imagined. And, so it is, if we give God the opportunity to work in our lives, all those unexpected occurrences will work out for our good.
…it is just as the Scriptures say,
“What God has planned
for people who love him
is more than eyes have seen
or ears have heard.
It has never even
entered our minds!”
(1 Corinthians 2:9, CEV)
Whatever it takes, God will be glorified, and his purposes will be fulfilled. God will work in our lives whether or not we believe in him, or think his timing is perfect. And, more often than not, it will not be what we expect!
In Namaan’s case, perhaps he expected a ritualistic healing followed by a ceremonial dip in a pure-flowing, sparkling river. It didn’t happen that way. Nevertheless, once Namaan humbles himself, he receives his healing through God’s prophet Elisha.
Naomi’s daughter-in-law, Ruth, eventually gleans more than barley as she tries to support herself and her aged relative. Ruth becomes the great-grandmother of King David, and an ancestor of Jesus, the Messiah!
Saul converts to Christianity, and is given a new name, Paul. He becomes an apostle of Christ, preaching the gospel and writing the majority of the books of the New Testament.
God is bigger than our expectations. When storm clouds roll in, perhaps it is God flipping the script for a brand new production. While we entertain many ideas on how our lives will progress, our expectations are often upended by the plans God has for us.
Knowing this, we can trust God when events occur that we deem unwanted. You and I can “Offer praise to God our Savior because of our Lord Jesus Christ! Only God can keep you from falling and make you pure and joyful in his glorious presence. … God is worthy of glory, honor, power, and authority. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25, CEV).
PRAYER: Every good and perfect gift comes from you, O God. Often, it is not packaged in the way we expect it to be. Help us to focus more on you, the Giver, and pay close attention as the gift unfolds. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.