Have you ever been watching a movie or listening to someone speak and think to yourself, “I totally know what’s going to happen next…” only to be completely wrong when you watch it all play out?
It probably doesn’t happen all that often in day-to-day life? Most of our world (outside of extreme circumstances like… oh, I don’t know… maybe a global pandemic) is pretty predictable. But when something does finally catch you off-guard, it can be a mix of emotions – exciting, scary, unsettling, intriguing – depending on what it was.
It just happened to me today while I was reading my Bible. I was reading Paul’s letter to a young leader named Titus. In chapter three, Paul writes about the subject of right living in society. I’ll share with you what Paul writes right before the verse that caught me by surprise.
“Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled by others and became slaves to many wicked desires and evil pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy. We hated others, and they hated us.
But then…“Titus 3:3-4a NLT 1998
Okay. Now, before you let your eyes scan to the next quote section to see how the passage continues, what do you predict he’s going to say? Maybe something like “But then I grew up and got wiser about how my actions affected others” or “But then I took an honest assessment of my life and realized what a mess it was.” Right?!
Here’s what he said:
“But then God our Savior showed us his kindness and love.”Titus 3:4 NLT 1998
There’s a whole bunch of rebellion going on in their past – foolishness, disobedience, wicked desires, evil pleasures, hate – and God’s solution to change their future has nothing to do with a punishment that fits the crimes. I don’t know about you, but I find two things shockingly powerful/different/surprising about that:
- It’s not “But then I…”. It’s “But then God…”.
- The change was made possible not by my grit, determination, strength or discipline but by God’s kindness and love.
It makes me realize how different God’s love is from my love and how different his ways are from my ways. My plans to change always involve some form of trying harder. God’s plan has nothing to do with my efforts and everything to do with His.
The next time I think I know the next thing I should do to change my life, I’m going to pause and pray and let what God makes happen next leave me joyfully saying “Wait… what?!” instead.
Prayer: Dear Lord, you are master of the unseen. Every time I think I understand the fullness of your love, you reveal another layer. I want to put my change in your hands. Help me remember to pause the next time I think I know what needs to come next and wait on your timing and plan instead. Amen.