God’s ways and thoughts are far above ours and because of that He is always going to surprise us! History bears this out. Who could have imagined that the Pharoah, oppressing the Children of Israel and drowning their children in the River Nile, would eventually be defeated because a baby preserved in that very same river and adopted into the Pharoah’s own home was the instrument of God to bring freedom from oppression? Who could have dreamt that God would begin the salvation of the human race through the fragility of a baby born in the obscurity of Bethlehem?
Or that He would strip hell of its claims through the apparent defeat and the death of the One who was sent to bring deliverance. That He would then entrust the most extraordinary story ever told to the most ordinary bunch of men and would conquer billions of human hearts, over the millennia that followed, not with might or brute force, but with love and grace.
All of these things are perfectly understandable to us today looking back with hindsight, but to the people who journeyed through the events in real time, the purposes of God were incomprehensible without God’s help. This latter fact makes me observe with fresh confidence and faith our 21st century world which, at times, appears to be spinning out of control.
The God who can do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine knows the end from the beginning and His purposes cannot and will not be defeated. This God who takes in all of human history in a single glance also sees you. He doesn’t only deal with the macro, He’s interested in the micro. He directs nations but at the same time guides individuals, ensuring that all things are working together for the good of His children. Surprises are on the way for us all, because He’s the God of the immeasurably more.
Not only is He going to surprise us but He’s going to ‘improve on our plans’. When I consider the life of the Apostle Paul, I see his personal desires and plans surfacing. For example, in Acts Ch 16, Luke records Pauls desire to evangelise Asia Minor and Ephesus but instead God turned Paul westward and into Europe, a factor which undoubtedly changed world history.
Later in Acts Ch19, Paul was allowed to plant a church in Ephesus. God didn’t veto Paul’s plans, he just improved on them. Again in Romans Ch 1, we read about Paul’s desire to visit Rome. It appears God hindered him but during the delay Paul wrote to the believers there instead. The consequence is that the church in all ages was gifted with a theological masterpiece which gives foundation to so much of what we believe. An improvement on Paul’s plan? I certainly think so.
However, later God allowed Paul to get to Rome but not exactly as he might have hoped to. I’m sure he never imagined he would go there as a prisoner, facing charges of treason and possible execution. God improved the plan, though it probably took Paul some time to view his circumstances as an improvement. In the end it was his time in prison that produced letters to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon, not to mention his personal witness, which impacted the Pretorian guard and reached the emperor’s palace.
In Phil Ch1:12f, Paul would go on to say, “I want you to know brothers and sisters that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the Gospel”. Amazing that God didn’t veto his plans but simply improved them.
In closing, keep dreaming and above all keep trusting. God is going to ‘surprise you’ and He’s going to ‘improve your plans’ because He’s the One who is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine.