It came as something of a shock. After years of hearing preaching on the blessing of God and on how God would provide every need, I found myself in a situation where my wife and I were down to the bottom of our overdraft, had little left on the electricity meter and no food in our cupboards. Suddenly, the promises didn’t seem quite so cosy any more. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I would have been tempted to say that they were untrue.
At an early morning prayer meeting, after a personal battle between our needs, my pride and my view of God, I asked, somewhat timidly, if the others at the meeting could pray for us. After hearing the situation, the others at the meeting agreed.
It was no surprise when someone from that meeting later offered us a gift of money. What was a surprise was that later that day, when I was still struggling with the whole thing, we took an expected phone call.
My mum, who was cleaning the church at the time, called to tell us that a stranger had visited the church and asked where we live. Normally, my mum would not be the type to give people’s addresses to unexpected strangers. However, this time, she did. While the security door at the bottom of our block of flats was locked and while Helen and I were still debating what was going on, an envelope plopped through the door containing several hundred pounds and an unsigned note.
God came through unexpectedly, from an unexpected source, while we were in an unexpected trial. It might not have been comfortable but it did reveal something about God. Only in our deepest need could we not only discover that God was and is faithful in providing for us but that He can do so through whatever means He wishes. He can use people you know and people you don’t know. He can give you a reliable job or teach you to trust Him without one. He can even get through locked doors while you are still panicking.
This is what this series of posts is about. For the next few months at least, I am going to examine some examples in both the Bible and modern life where God has chosen unexpected people, done unexpected miracles, taught unexpected principles and turned up in expected situations. Throughout all of them, we will see that God stubbornly resists being put into any kind of predictable, religious box. Every label applied to His people and His work soon drops off. As soon as we think we know all there is to know about God, as soon as we have a cosy, simple method to do this or that, God does something lovingly unexpected so we will worship and pursue Him and not the ideas we might have about Him.
Perhaps it is only in a journey through the unexpected and through surprises that we can really discover who God is and what He wants from us. In the next few months, this is the journey I hope we can take together. To make the journey even more interesting, from time to time, I will be giving those who read this blog the opportunity to choose which posts come next. So, even for me, this will be a journey into the unexpected. Are you ready? Let’s go.