“So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:8–10).
LIFE WOULD BE A DREARY BUSINESS IF THERE WERE NO SURPRISES. Getting our way all of the time and seeing things always turn out exactly as we planned would not be delightful; it would, in the end, be extremely tiresome. So it is really a blessing when God tears up our itineraries and requires a change of course. Paul had not planned to go to Macedonia, but he would be the first to say that going there was one of the best things he ever had to do.
We should expect the unexpected. When it turns out that God has something different for us than we expected, we shouldn’t behave as if some strange thing were happening to us. Unexpected turnings in the pathway of life are the norm, not the exception, and it helps to live with the possibility of change always in our minds.
We should adjust to the unexpected. If we’ve ever sung the song “Trust and Obey,” we ought to be familiar with the concept of yielding to the Lord’s will. When God’s will and our own plans are trying to occupy the same space at the same time, something has to give. Faith means we yield to Him, adjusting ourselves as needed.
We should give thanks for the unexpected. Yielding to changes that the Lord requires doesn’t have to be a matter of grudging acceptance. We can, if we choose, embrace the better path that the Lord has indicated, with gratitude for the change rather than resentment. After all, growth does come from change, doesn’t it?
What it comes down to is that we are the servants of God, and servants who can’t handle surprises don’t make very good servants. As long as God is our Master, we need not doubt that His next order is going to be good. It may be disruptive and inconvenient, but it is going to be good nonetheless. So while we busy ourselves with our present “assignment,” may we eagerly await the next one the Master will give us. It may be very different than what we had in mind — and it may come at any minute!
“The only way a servant can remain true to God is to be ready for the Lord’s surprise visits . . . This sense of expectation will give our life the attitude of childlike wonder He wants it to have” (Oswald Chambers).