Encountering the unexpected

By | July 21, 2018

Expect and prepare for the unexpected!  What a ludicrous idea! To even begin, you must have some idea of what the unexpected will be, but then it wouldn’t be unexpected!

The problem is you don’t know if this unexpected event will be good or bad! Perhaps it would be helpful in life if, as in the movies, there was an accompanying sound track. There would be soft music playing gently in the background of life interspersed by the occasional moments where the theme tune from Jaws suddenly alerts you to danger! Maybe not, that would be stressful!

We encounter the unexpected with God often and as you do so it produces a variety of emotions; thankfulness, gratitude, hope, courage, and most of all faith. Those encounters happen not when we plan for them or create environments for them. Consider  Mary as the archangel appears saying, “Fear not!”, and Peter and John going to the Temple to pray when they are asked to give money to a disabled man. The unexpected happens and takes them all by surprise. True, Peter and John were not surprised that God healed the man, but they had no idea the event would happen until it did.

The Bible is full of surprises, but nearly all of them initiated by God, and totally unexpected. There is something important for us to learn here.

In another scenario, Jesus is walking in front of his disciples leading the way to a small town that they had never visited before. It’s never mentioned in the Bible either before or after. It might as well be your town, street or your life.

Jesus is walking and the background music is Gustav Holst’s “Mars, bringer of war”!

He is followed by a great crowd. It’s a crowd filled with people with all sorts of agenda’s, somewhere in there you will find someone like yourself. They have seen miracles close up, healings that were simply astonishing, and heard speeches from Jesus that were so profound and which seemed to penetrate the heart. Excitement is in the air. Jesus is walking and the background music is Gustav Holst’s “Mars, bringer of war”!

Meanwhile, a short distance away, heading straight towards Jesus, although the crowd is not aware of it, another large crowd are on the move. The atmosphere is different – sorrow, anguish, pain, depression and wailing. It’s a different background sound, and it’s in a minor key. A widow is following after the funeral procession of her only son. Hope is lost. Nothing makes sense. Heartache is like cancer of the bones. Her world has fallen to pieces.

And then it happens. Unexpected. Unimaginable. Who would have thought it?

Jesus comes through the gates of the town as the Widow is departing the town, through the same gate. A clash is inevitable and it happens, and this is the outcome; when Jesus saw her, He had compassion on her.

You feel the need to rush through the story, but how many times have you gone through those gates of life with grief, pain, sadness and hopelessness only to encounter the living Christ, who looks on you in your helplessness and has compassion on you.

And it doesn’t stop there. He makes a difference. This was entirely Jesus’ initiative, the Widow didn’t orchestrate this opportunity, or this moment of last hope, God did. It’s an explosive moment of kindness, grace, encouragement and the miraculous – but it was unexpected. It’s the calling card of God. The entire narrative has Hebrew 11 written all over it in capital letters.

Nobody had heard of Nain. In all your academic excellence, diploma or degree, you hadn’t either until you read those few verses in Luke, but God knew all about that woman, that town, her only son and her heartache.

The story suddenly changes pace, the background music changes to one of anticipation, expectation and hope. Jesus reaches out a hand, touches the dead boy and commands him to live, and then when all the excitement is at fever pitch, tells them to give the boy something to eat. Jesus knows about the appetites of young boys!

When things look impossible, don’t believe it!

And so the story ends, everyone is on their way home. The disciples are moving on with yet more stories, more to think about, Meanwhile in Nain the day ends in a different way than it begun, with praise, thanksgiving and hearts bursting with adoration.

The story of Nain is for you. Your encounter with the unexpected is around every corner of your life. The God we serve, is not just omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and immutable, but He also is among many other things, kind and lovely.

You can’t prepare for the unexpected but you can expect that God will do something unexpected for you, and that it will be a Romans 8 dynamic.

He knows about you and like the Widow of Nain, He has noticed you.

He’s noticed you in your pursuit of Him, your struggles, your wavering love and commitment, your sacrifice and diligence. Nothing passes by His penetrating gaze. You can’t prepare for the unexpected but you can expect that God will do something unexpected for you, and that it will be a Romans 8 thing. Look it up.

The story of Nain is much bigger than it seems, and it is in Scripture for a reason. On the way to Nain, nobody knew that Jesus was going to raise a widow’s son. On the way out of Nain nobody knew that the Son of God was on His way to come and raise the widow’s son, with mere words.

You never know. All things are possible.

And when things look impossible, well, don’t believe it!

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