One of my favorite books of the Bible is the Gospel of Mark. I like his “just the facts” approach to the Gospel story. I had a little laugh recently while reading the following passage:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Mark 1:35-38 (NIV)
Doesn’t it seem odd to you that Jesus left as soon as the crowds began to gather? Typically, most leaders are hoping to draw a big crowd, but Jesus did something quite unusual, quite unexpected. When His ratings spiked—He took a hike! When the numbers were high—He said goodbye. When the crowds grew—He bid them adieu.
Doesn’t that strike you as being unusual? Why did Jesus do that? What can we learn from this story? Here are three keys to following God as a true believer when He does the unexpected.
What to do when God does the unexpected
1. We should remember that God’s plan is rarely like our plan.
God truly knows best, so we should trust Him and follow Him. He often leads us to do the unexpected—the unpredictable—the unthinkable! Virtually every ministry-related career move that God has orchestrated in my life has not been something I predicted. Without exception, He has led me to serve in areas that have been outside my comfort zone and beyond my perceived capabilities.
2. We should never allow others to shape us by their expectations.
I am a people-pleaser and the opinions of others matter greatly to me, but I know that I should seek to live for an audience of One. Although we want to be good examples to those around us, ultimately, we should simply try to please God. The expectations of others are often based on their personal desires and needs, but God’s expectations are because He knows us intimately and He knows the future perfectly.
3. We should never exchange good for God.
Some things are good to do, but they are not the things God has led us to do! They are good, but they are not God. The never-ending challenge is to live in such a way that we can discern the difference.
When I became senior pastor of Shelbyville First Baptist Church, I was certain that I would retire in that position. I loved the church, the people and the community. Four years later, no one was more shocked than me when God moved me to my current role as a team leader of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. I love my current work, my team and our KBC staff. I believe I will retire as a member of the KBC staff, but I know that God could still do the unexpected—that’s often how He works!
Steve Rice is team leader of Church Consulting and Revitalization of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.