Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Surprises from God

It takes a sensitive spirit to recognize God’s hand when He chooses to surprise us. 

We often snuggle into our routines of praying, asking, wishing, petitioning, interceding… 

Yet we rarely watch with expectation to see how the Lord will bless us through the process.  We allow ourselves to see His provision as “coincidence” or “fate” instead of recognizing that God is at work.

With eyes blinded to the sometimes subtle and sometimes outrageous works of His hands, we’re lulled into a rut of accepting mediocrity, forgetting that 

“The walk of faith is designed to be a walk of adventure, filled with periodic and delightful surprises.” (Charles R. Swindoll)

Waiting expectantly for answered prayer then delighting in God’s provision (and giving Him all the glory) is one remarkable way to recognize and embrace God’s best. Holding God’s proverbial hand while he leads us on exciting adventures is delightful and joyous.  

Some call times of God’s obvious activity “God Winks” (when God winks on us and delivers blessing). I prefer to call these moments “Faith Builders.” They’re times when He chooses to move in ways that, when we’re sensitive to them, are clearly a work of His great hand. There are no other explanations for people of faith who choose to open their eyes to God’s work in unseen realms. 

It seems, as I commented to a friend last week, “maybe sometimes God likes to show off.”

Often God’s surprises look entirely different from our wishes and dreams. Occasionally, He delivers just what we’d asked, even when it once seemed utterly impossible. That’s exactly what happened in our family just a week ago. I haven’t yet stopped weeping in heartfelt gratitude. 

Our daughter, Taylor, announced her engagement to the love of her life on December 1st. As her parents, we’re thrilled.   

She’s never wanted a “church wedding,” but dreams of an outdoor ceremony surrounded by trees, water, twinkle lights, and loved ones. In a world of long engagements and extravagant weddings, the six months they've planned between engagement ring and wedding band seem far too short. Venue after venue turned us away with full calendars, booked a year or more in advance. Others were too outrageously expensive to consider. (One group proposed that we spend more than $20,000 on food alone.  Not. Gonna. Happen.)  

Most of us, as young ladies, consider our weddings to the point where we envision them perfectly in our minds. Taylor is no exception. A few weeks ago, as she sat at her computer perusing wedding venues, she found “THE one.”  She showed me the pictures and tearfully shared details that had filled her imagination for well over a decade. Her visions were fulfilled in intricate detail in the images before us.  Sadly, a look at the event calendar showed NO available dates for the entire 2015 summer.

There are a couple of reasons that a summer date is required. First, Taylor’s finance, Dean, is a school teacher. Second, there’s a particular date in June where a notable number of family milestones have occurred over several generations. For reasons I don’t pretend to understand, the Lord has chosen to highlight that date for us.  That date “happens” to be a Saturday in 2015. Taylor and Dean wanted to try hard to reserve that date for their wedding ceremony.

Seeing “THE” venue online then realizing it was not available was like smelling the choicest of fares, realizing they’d never touch your lips. I thought we should still go tour “THE” venue. Taylor hesitated, not wanted to fall deeper in love with something she could not have.

Our venue search was not going well. Taylor was discouraged, referring to herself as “Bridezilla” (which was NOT at all the case).  We continued in prayer, trusting that God would soon reveal His plan and provision in the matter. At last, I gave the difficult advice that it was time to determine which parts of her wedding dreams were negotiable. It was clear that we weren’t going to achieve them all. 

But God had a completely different adventure in mind. 

For reasons that only the Lord knows, Taylor finally called “THE” venue and asked for a tour. 

The proprietor on the other end of the phone line said, “Just an hour ago…”

Yes, 60 short minutes before Taylor called…

“Just an hour ago, I had a cancellation for a Saturday in June.”  

Yes, it was “OUR” date, suddenly made available at “THE” venue that also offered the most reasonable pricing we’d seen.  Here come those tears again. I don’t see it as coincidence. I don’t refer to it as fate. I recognize and embrace it as a gift of God’s best.

My friends, be blessed. Be encouraged. Because God is good. All the time.

If He’d provided a different venue on a different date, He’d still be just as good. He’s good all the time - when He comforts us through a trial or moves mountains to deliver a gift. 

In this situation, He chose to glorify Himself by placing dreams of a wedding in a young girl’s heart and then providing for them detail by detail. In this situation, He chose to continue the pattern of a significant date through the fourth generation in our family. In this situation, He chose to provide it all in a way that could only be explained as a work of His hand.

It builds our faith. It glorifies His name. We are thrilled to ride along, with seat belts firmly fastened, on this exciting adventure.


When has God moved in a way that is only explained as a work of His hand?

How does this story in your own, personal life, continue to encourage you and those around you?

Be Strengthened today, By His Word,
Psalm 119:28


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