“1Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13)
“Your never safe from surprise till you’re dead”, is at once true and false. The grandest surprise of my life will be the moment after death, when I see what “no eye has seen or mind conceived.” But the idea is very true for life here and now and perhaps most for the Christian, who should expect to be surprised by a God of infinite creativity and power. Here the disciples are in prayer and suddenly the Holy Spirit lays out a specific command. It was probably unexpected. They obeyed and, subsequently, the gospel moved forward into new territory.
Surprise is a great challenge for the church today. We have things that we know are important to do, such a caring for the poor and teaching the Scriptures. We can set up a plan to meet these needs and even hire someone to oversee the program. In fact, we can create such efficient programs that there is very little room for surprise. Worst of all, is becoming so comfortable with something that “works” that we stop expecting surprise or resist it when it comes. It is truly a supreme challenge. The church needs to strive forward using all her resources and yet be ready, like a sailboat, to tack with the wind, all the while continuing on a faithful course to her ultimate destination.
Keeping the right mindset is probably the best way to be ready for surprise. Church leaders and laymen, need to watch, and listen to, God’s people expectantly and prayerfully. Obtaining the right mindset, is, of course, done in prayer, Bible study, and worship. The Holy Spirit moves among us like the wind and is no “respecter of persons”. We need to be ready to be surprised by what He chooses to do, and by whom He may choose to do it.
“7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[a] must be born again.’ 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3)