They won’t be expecting that!
Our God is a God of surprise. He often does the unexpected. There are many surprises in the Bible, one of the best known being the Christmas story. The angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her she was to become pregnant with the Son of the Most High (Luke 1: 26-35). Shortly before that, Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth received a similarly unexpected announcement from Gabriel. Elizabeth who was older (her husband Zechariah, was also older) and far past the age to bear children, was told she would also be pregnant with a son who would be named John. I can’t imagine how surprised Elizabeth must have been or how shocked Mary was when they each received their news.
After Gabriel had spoken with Mary and Elizabeth, an angel of the Lord visited shepherds in a field watching their flock and proclaimed “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, I bring you good news of great joy. Today your savior has been born (Luke 2:8)”. Imagine doing your everyday job and suddenly seeing an angel of the Lord. The story describes the shepherds as being terrified, I think I would be too.
In Matthew, we see the story of the wise men going to worship Jesus. Matthew 2:3 says “When King Herod heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him.” King Herod was alarmed. In my opinion, the word “alarmed” is a great adjective to describe the feeling that comes along with something unexpected happening. The unexpected startles us, causes alarm.
I think that too much of the time, we think we have God’s plan for us all figured out. We get into a routine and then when something happens that isn’t according to “the plan”, we are completely thrown off and our lives get turned upside down.
For as long as I can remember, I had plans of going to law school. When I was in eighth grade I had my university picked out, the requirements memorized and was already writing practice essays. I started high school and suddenly wasn’t doing nearly as well in school. I had some hard things happening and lost all motivation for success in school, in my faith and in my relationships. And so, I gave up on law school. I spent a few weeks at camp the summer before my junior year of high school and realized I had not been actively pursuing God. I decided to turn things around, to try harder. I graduated high school and spent the summer following graduation working at camp. When I announced to my friends and family that I would be gone for the summer, people were surprised. And honestly, I was surprised. I did not expect to be called into ministry. It was life changing. I fell in love with Jesus all over again and loved the fact that I could share His love with our campers. That one summer changed the way I viewed life and ultimately changed my trajectory. Sometimes, the unexpected, the bumps in the road that we see as roadblocks are really just God telling us to listen. So this Advent we encourage you to wait with Elizabeth, Mary and us as we anticipate the birth of King.
In this time of Advent, there is another major story of God doing the unexpected. He sent His son as a newborn to save from their sins. The King coming in the form of a Child, that’s unexpected.
Things to do with your Campers
Where has God surprised you? Where have those surprises led you? How has your faith grown stronger through all of the unexpected events?
Read Matthew 2:1-12. Why was Herod alarmed? What was his ultimate goal and why was Herod not a fan of Jesus’ birth? How can we give the Son of God more control in our lives?
Make a manger, an unexpected birthplace for the King!