It was prayer request time at church and Josh did the unexpected. He had always stayed in his seat, quiet and private, but this time he wrote down three little words on the prayer card. Then he stood, walked to the front and boldly dropped the card into the prayer basket.
"Save my Dad," were those three hope filled words.
Josh's dad, Val, met me at Starbucks. We ordered our Grande's and sat in the cushioned chairs in the corner. "Tell me why we're here," I began.
"I need to tell you about the mirror," he replied. "For most of my life, I have focused on me. I have done whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. I've wasted too many years, too drunk to think. I've broken one relationship after another, spent money I didn't have, lost myself in gambling, lived in strip clubs and lap dance bars. And a few years ago I tried my best to shoot the top of my head off, but the gun misfired."
"Sounds past tense, what's changed?" I asked.
"Something totally unexpected, God got my attention. It happened when I looked in the mirror and nothing was there. It was as if I didn't exist—no face, no hair, no nothing. It freaked me out, and no, I wasn't drunk. I haven't had a drink in years. I think God was showing me how wasted my life had been, like I was missing in action. And, I got the message."
"I hadn't cried in years, but that night, I cried. I fell to my knees and took the first step in turning my life around. I gave 'me' to God. Surely he can do better with me than I have done. And maybe I could get my face back.
"I hadn't seen my wife in months, but that night I called her and asked her if it would be alright with them if I showed up at church on Sunday? I know I shocked her. Until that night she was pretty confident that the only time she would see me in church would be at my funeral.
"But that night she managed to say, 'I guess so.'
"So, on Sunday, I walked into church expecting to find it loaded with hypocrites. I was truly surprised. I discovered a bunch of people who were there because sometime in the past God did the unexpected in their lives, too.
"I'm here because I want to talk to someone who can help me keep going. I'm in way over my head and I'm not sure what's normal and what to expect."
"Well," I said, "Val, I can help you learn from what God sends your way, but the unexpected is his way of testing our faith. He invented the unexpected. So get ready for more spontaneity, for more surprises, and more unexpected and unpredictable challenges.
"In fact, your mirror event, was a 'God thing.' It really wasn't about you, it was about God responding to Josh's prayer card. It was about Josh asking God to do something totally unexpected. And it sounds like he did it with style."
Challenge for Me
Over the last few weeks I have been involved in a more than I bargained for process of computer replacement. I began doing research months ago and finally after Thanksgiving I purchased what I was convinced would be "the" computer I needed to take Faith Fitness to the next level.
The build date was set and I anticipated a problem free process ending in a new system that would edit audio files (faith stories), develop visual images for web publishing and workshop presentations, and help me connect and organize my thoughts and insights. Needless to say I was more than a little eager.
The state-of-the-art computer I ordered arrived a day early, but after 55 total hours on the phone and 11 chat sessions with technical support the sound card still didn't work and the software had problems. So, with great disappointment and a spot of anger, I sent the "dream computer" packing ... back to mother.
My next step was out of character for this 20–year veteran of the PC world. They call it changing platforms; I call it trading "a world I was used to" for a world filled with unknowns.
I converted to Mac. And the unexpected happened. It all worked, better than anticipated and with surprising flare.
In the process, God taught me a valuable lesson about life. When I have the opportunity to try the unexpected, to live in the world of surprise ... do it. Be it!
When people expect spinning and stretching the truth, be straightforward and honest.
When people expect harshness and cynicism, be compassionate and understanding.
When people expect judgment and punishment, be grace-filled and forgiving.
When people are struggling with broken dreams, be a listening ear and an angel of mercy.
When you see need and opportunity, be generous and involved.
Quotes to Get You Thinking
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Who wants to live a shallow, hollow existence on the surface of things? Life becomes proscribed by all the things we should avoid and prescribed by all the things we must be careful to do. We get so busy trying to demonstrate our spiritual correctness that we lose the art of living out of our souls. (Jeff Imbach, The River Within)
Making it Real This Week
It's a challenge to live with the unexpected, especially those of us who live in the planning and strategy world. Many of us have spent a lifetime purposefully trying to remove the unexpected from our lives.
When the unexpected happens this week ... see God in it. Look for his presence and listen for his direction. Faith sees God in every surprise.
Oh, and I believe that this week may be the week when God wants you to be unexpected for him. You may find this is your week to be the "mirror" God uses to send a totally unexpected message from the throne of heaven.
So get off the couch and get ready ... something unexpected this way comes!