Life is full of surprises!

Sometimes the surprises are pleasant – like finding a $20 bill in your walkingpath. Sometimes the surprises are aggravating – like a flat tire. Regardless, surprises are unexpected. No matter how much you plan, you can expect to have unexpected things happen to you.

How do you handle the unexpected? Do you worry or get angry? Or do you pull away and do nothing? Do you trust God or do you turn away from God?

In Luke 1:5-25 God decides to surprise a priest. For 400 years, God quit talking. Then He sent an angel to tell an old priest, Zacharias, that he would have a son who would prepare the way for God’s Son. What a surprise! No one expected this news! How Zacharias handled the unexpected is a lesson all of us can learn as you manage the surprises in your life.

I don’t want you to be afraid when the unexpected happens in your life. God has a bigger plan than you can imagine. So what do we lessons do we discover from Zacharias.

1 – Stay Faithful.

Zacharias and Elizabeth were a godly couple before God and in the community. Yet, this did not guarantee life’s blessings. Zechariah and Elizabeth suffered personal and social disgrace because Elizabeth could not have children. In spite of life’s hardships and disappointments, Zacharias was faithful to God. He was a faithful priest. 

God regularly works through ordinary people, doing what they normally do. God uses ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances to fulfill His plan. God does His best work through ordinary people. Stay faithful.

2 – Trust God.

The angel Gabriel and scared Zacharias. But the angel brought news of joy.  Joy, not fear, is God’s desire for His people. Even if life brings surprises, you can trust that God has something better in store that will bring you joy. The news of a firstborn son was surely great joy to Zacharias. When God interrupts our plans, it is always for His glory and our ultimate good. Trust Him.

3 – Wait for God.

Zacharias was not only full of fear, he was empty of faith. He felt like he was “too old” to have a son. So he asked for a sign and received it in the form of his own punishment – he wouldn’t be able to talk until his son was born. In spite of his fear and faithlessness, God permitted this couple to have a son. They waited and waited, but God performed a miracle. God’s delays are not necessarily His denials. Wait for Him.

God often accomplishes his will in unusual and unexpected ways. Do not limit God by your thinking or with your actions. He is the most creative being in the universe and often accomplishes His will in ways you might not expect. Let him surprise you!

I have my own story of surprise and how God used it for good.

It was December 1996. At our leaders meeting we had a list of almost 20 items of building repairs – carpet, doors, painting, windows, boiler – but no money to do anything about them. In addition, we were running out of space and dreamed of a pole barn for a gym to house our new AWANA ministry. We really didn’t know what to do but we just kept inviting people and telling them about Jesus. People kept coming even though we didn’t have room for them. Then early on Christmas Day, I had a knock on my door and the Adrian Township fire department came to inform me that our church was on fire. As tragic as that was on Christmas Day, it caught the attention of our community. Complete strangers sent us money to rebuild. We received over $600,000 from our insurance company. Because it was during Christmas holiday, the insurance adjuster couldn’t come so they contacted Forrest Cousino, a wonderful Christian builder in Toledo who specialized in fire restoration. He became our contractor and we were the first church of a new division, Midwest Church Construction To make a long story short, we built our building for less $200,000 out of pocket. I tell you this because it is a historical reminder that God sometimes will surprise you with the way He accomplishes His will in your life. It might even seem to be a bad event, but God has a plan.

Stay faithful. Trust God. Wait for God.