God’s Surprises

Dr. Marc Drake, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Sun Lakes

The Bible is full of surprises. Big surprises! Like the one when Joseph’s brothers, during a time of famine, went down to Egypt just to buy food. However, while there, they encountered a man who turned out to be not only the prime minister of the nation, but their long-lost brother as well. Talk about a surprise! But God had his purposes in all this (See Genesis 50:20) — purposes that would result in the formation of a new nation (Israel) and, ultimately, in the arrival of the Messiah on this earth. Isn’t that amazing? And Joseph’s brothers thought they were headed to Egypt just to buy food. Surprise!

In the New Testament, Jesus tells the story of people playing while the boss was away. But then the boss came back. Surprise! We’re also told that Jesus himself will return like a thief in the night. Those not ready will be surprised—but not pleasantly! On the other hand, those who know Him will have joy inexpressible at His coming.

Throughout the centuries, God has brought unusual surprises to His people—surprises that served His sovereign purposes and resulted in much blessing and encouragement to believers. For example, when our nation’s Civil War was being waged and the outcome was still uncertain, Pastor Joseph Gilmore wanted to turn his people’s attention away from the unsettling news of the war to the security of God’s guidance in every concern of life. So he preached on Psalm 23 and said that the important thing is to know that God is leading — no matter how or where He leads us. Then later, as he continued to ponder this truth, he wrote some words that ultimately became a beloved hymn: He leadeth me, He leadeth me, By His own hand He leadeth me; His faithful follower I would be, For by His hand He leadeth me.

Pastor Gilmore then gave the piece of paper to his wife and forgot about it. Three years later, he was a pastoral candidate in another church, and as he was leafing through that church’s hymnal, he spotted his own hymn! Without his knowledge, Mrs. Gilmore had sent the words to a Christian periodical where they were set to music. This was the first time Joseph Gilmore realized that his hymn was now among the songs of the church. Quite the surprise, I’d say!

Yes, God delights to lead His people. His track record of faithfulness is perfect as He loves and cares for His own. His promises are true, and He will never leave His children. Just as He has led and provided for them in the past, so will He continue to do so.

And that, my friend, is no surprise.