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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

God's Surprises

After a visit to the Gaza Strip, I left thanking God that He had not called me to Gaza, that dusty, trash-strewn, third world country. I was so happy to get back to Jordan and thanked God He had called me to serve as an English teacher there, not in Gaza.

Twenty years later I left Jordan and sought another place to serve. Every mission magazine or brochure I picked up stressed the needs for personnel in the Gaza Strip. As I looked at the list of requests, I decided that the need for English teachers was greatest in Gaza. What a difficult decision, but I knew that I was to go to Gaza.

What a great experience living in Gaza turned out to be. I have never felt so warmly welcomed nor made friends so easily as in the Gaza Strip. God revealed to me the important and beautiful thing about Gaza — the people and relationships. My first impression was so totally wrong. As Isaiah 55:8 (NIV) reminds us,

‘“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord."

Who am I to think that I know what is best for me and where I will be the happiest and most fulfilled? Isaiah reminds us that we do not always know what the Lord has in mind for our lives because we do not think as He does nor know the way that He has planned.

“Oh, I’ll get married after I retire from missionary service,” declared a colleague and close friend.

My thought was, who would want to marry an old man at that age, after living happily for so long as a single, enjoying independence and being free of family responsibilities? I certainly would never do that.

With retirement came a big surprise. On the first day in exercise class, I saw him. I had no idea who he was and felt no attraction, but a strange thought popped into my mind, this is the man you’re going to marry. What a ridiculous thought. Where did that come from? I had no intention or desire to marry. I pushed that unrealistic thought away and forgot it. Not until much later, after my future husband and I had spent time doing things together, I remembered that crazy thought.

At different times in my life, God has revealed to me how some of my long-held convictions and beliefs are not in keeping with His reality.

That fits the pattern of my life — the way God breaks through to let me know His will and plan. My faith is backed up by strong impressions because He does not want me to doubt His will. How great to have a long history of walking daily with a personal God, knowing His heart of love and faithfulness. He has shown me how He can change my desires and work to bring good into all circumstances.

“In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

We may have in mind what we want to do and how to spend our days, but God may have something in mind that we have not considered. Will we have the courage to follow where He leads?

We can become confused and bewildered when God’s plans are not what we expected. Will we trust God’s wisdom and His timing?

Let us trust and praise God even when our plans don’t turn out the way we expect.

Copyright © Patricia J. Frost, used with permission.

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