When was the last time something completely unexpected happened in your life?
You won the lottery!
She said “Yes!”
You named your child “Oops!”
The “unexpected’s” in life aren’t always pleasant, but they certainly are eventful.
Some of my favorite stories in the Bible involve the unexpected:
• Unexpected visits from angels.
• Unexpected callings from God.
• Unexpected transformation of lives.
In Acts 9:1-16, Saul experienced a series of unexpected events:
The risen Jesus appears to him.
He’s humbled to his knees and goes blind.
He shifts from being a persecutor of Christians to God’s “chosen instrument to proclaim [Jesus’] name…” (v15).
In John 20:24-31, Thomas also experienced some unexpected events:
All eleven of the disciples claimed to have seen the risen Jesus.
Though the doors were locked, Jesus suddenly appeared in the room.
Thomas moved from doubt to humble trust.
John then closes out this chapter by stating the purpose of His Gospel:
“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
This statement of God through John, encapsulates the meaning behind the title of this column:
Expect the Unexpected - God Will Show Up!”
God is revealing to us that His Words in the Bible have the power to create saving faith in Jesus Christ. God makes other such statements through the apostle Paul:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16
I share these experiences of Saul and Thomas because both came face to face with the Word of God - Jesus Himself.
“The Word because flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14)
And when they did, their lives unexpectedly changed. Saul, a persecutor of Christians, became Paul, a believer in Jesus and the greatest evangelist in the world. Thomas, though a follower of Jesus, was filled with doubt, then strengthened in his faith. In both cases, God showed up! And their lives changed.
Though it’s natural for us human beings to expect to receive nothing much just from words on a page, other than knowledge, God demonstrates the power of His Word in the lives of many biblical characters. God also demonstrates the power of His Word in the lives of many people today. In fact, everyone who believes in Jesus as their Savior has had their life changed - transformed - by the power of God’s Word. But then, God tells us so in Romans 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
During this Christmas season we give thanks to God for so many things; i.e. family, friends, great food and gifts and Jesus Himself. No doubt, His death on that cross to pay the penalty for our sins is the greatest gift of all. However, there’s one more gift for us to give thanks to God: the gift of faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
By the power of God’s Word our lives have been changed. And it is His Word that God tells us to trust and use to change the lives of others. This is why: “…my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
I know, sometimes I wonder, “How can that be? They’re just words.” But then again, they’re so much more. They are the power of God that brings salvation.
Yes, the unexpecteds of winning the lottery, her saying “Yes,” and having at least the nickname of your child be “Oops,” are all meaningful events. But there’s nothing more meaningful than experiencing the transformation of a life, from unbeliever to believer, from weak in faith to strong.
And when we trust in the power of God’s Word and use it to speak into the lives of others … we have enough evidence in the millions of Christians around us to …
Expect the Unexpected - God Will Show Up!
Live a Life that BEGS the question.
Rev. Dr. Martin J. Brauer is pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 700 W. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park, TX. He lives with his wife, Leona, and dog, Tica, in Leander. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.