The whole week was a whirlwind.
It started with an interview and ended with me accepting a job. Full-time employment wasn’t on my radar, but after much prayer and wise counsel, I believed this was right. Now nearly four months later, it’s been confirmed time and again – I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be for this season.
The twists and turns of the past few months were on my mind as I listened to Priscilla Shirer teach at her annual simulcast a couple of weekends ago. She talked about what God does in us, to us, and through us when we’re in unexpected places.
For example, after an exhausting time of ministry, Jesus led the disciples away for refreshment. When they got to the place of anticipated respite, however, they were greeted by a hungry crowd. At the end of their collective rope, Jesus’ followers suggested sending the masses away. When that didn’t work, they offered to buy them all a meal. But Jesus had something else in mind. In the well-known story, the disciples were instructed to distribute five loaves of bread and two fish among the multitude, and more surprising than the multiplication of the food was the abundance of leftovers.
The famished group the disciples would’ve preferred to avoid altogether was not a surprise to Jesus; instead, the crowd set the stage for the miracle the disciples would witness. Speaking to our present-day circumstances, Shirer asked pointedly, “Is it possible that the refreshment you need might come packaged in a problem?” She added, “What if we pray ourselves out of the gifts God wants to give us because they’re not packaged how we’d prefer?”
Other examples of God’s work in unexpected places include His provision for His peoples’ needs in the wilderness as they wandered for four decades and the events that led to Jesus’ birth exactly where it was prophesied He would come into the world centuries earlier.
In my opinion, one of the biggest takeaways from the event was the simple yet profound statement, “Wherever you are, there you are.” It doesn’t sound like much, but it was a powerful reminder that what God wants to do in, to, and through me is not disconnected from where He has me. The unexpected circumstances I face aren’t a hindrance to God’s plans, but actually provide the context in which He will carry out His purposes.
The job I didn’t see on the horizon has been a conduit of God’s grace and goodness to me in ways I didn’t know I needed. Similarly, it was at the college I didn’t plan on attending that I gained a life-changing understanding of and gratitude for the Bible. And although I never dreamed I’d live in a small town in West Virginia, I’ve grown to know God better and love Him more through the people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had since moving here almost three years ago.
If you’re anything like me, you’re tempted to romanticize the past or fantasize about the future instead of embracing the present. When we wish away present reality, though, it exposes a lack of expectation that God can and will be faithful to His character and true to His Word right where we are. So to borrow from Shirer once more, the challenge is to “stop trying to invent a way to get out of where you are.” After all, what God “wants to do in, to, and through you [today] will happen in the space you’re in right now.”
As unexpected issues arise around us, we can have peace because we trust Who is with us. And who knows what He’ll do in, to, and through us right here. After all, this wouldn’t be the first time an inconvenient multitude set the stage for a miracle.