The Unexpected

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Three years ago, I was had lunch with one of the pastors at my home church most of my life, Pastor Schalk..  He was asking me about my first year of ministry and how things were going.  I told him, things were going well, but at that time I was nervous about leading my first mission trip.  Well, not just leading but also going on my first mission trip ever.  So, I viewed him as an expert on mission trip because he had taken numerous groups from the church on mission trips.  I asked him for any advice that he might have for me.  I still remember his response, “Prepare, prepare, prepare.”  That is great advice, because if you are well prepared for a mission trip it makes things go pretty smoothly.  But one thing I have noticed with the few mission trips I’ve gone on is that there is always going to be something unexpected that takes place and no matter how well you prepare there will always be something you weren’t expecting.  Take for example the first mission trip I went on to Ohio, I wasn’t prepared for moving a bunch of boxes and stuff to get to our beds that evening.  I really think Pastor’s face describe what most of us were feeling when we showed up.

Mission Trips are just full of unexpected events.  Last year I wasn’t planning on spending 15 hours in Horn Lake, Mississippi.  And as I write this message, I don’t know what to expect in this upcoming trip.  Leading up to trip people would ask me questions, and sometimes I didn’t know the answer.  My response at times was we will see when we get there.  There is unknown what people on their first mission trip would think.  Or wondering how well the youth would do waking up early and getting a move on it.  And of course not knowing who and exactly how we will be serving.  That’s a lot like life.  We never know exactly how things are going to play out.  And nobody expected a carpenter’s son to be the King of Kings.  Nobody expected Jesus to die on the cross to fulfill the debt of our sins.

One thing that was different with this mission trip is that Camp Linn Haven told about all the areas we could serve and had us pray about where we felt God was leading us to serve that week.  When I talked with Teirsa they lady in charge of the camp, she told me that people might have one idea of where they want to help out but it might change after praying.  During the week I never anticipated serving in the various ways that I did this week.  Throughout the week I worked with the hospice group where we did stuff around the house for people who are in hospice.  The first two days I worked at this amazing couples house.  They were just one of the sweetest couples.  Our group which, consisted of Ryan, Blake, Maliyah, and three people from two difference churches in North Carolina.  We painted their house, put a new doorknob on a door that the knob was completely off, fixed some wooden steps, and made a handrail.  It was great to do all of those things but it was amazing to serve such a wonderful couple.  We found out that they used to be gospel singers.  So we asked the wife if we could hear them sing.  She said she would talk to her husband and see if he was up to finding his guitar and tuning it.  Next thing I know I heard some music coming from the house and the man was playing some of their music on the radio.  Then shortly after that there he was on the front patio with his guitar playing and singing.  I didn’t expect all of that.  It was just a truly amazing experience.  I’m sure you can talk to any of our group and there will be able to share similar stories.

You don’t have to go on a mission trip to serve in unexpected ways.  It happens on an everyday basis.  Sometimes we don’t always notice what God is putting in front of us.  We might be so caught up in what’s going on in our lives that we miss the opportunity God has given to us.  Maybe, we might feel that God wouldn’t have us serve in a certain way and He has somebody else in mind to serve in that capacity.  That might be true, but God has a plan for all us to serve those that we come across and He gives us the ability to do so.  God has given us all specials gifts and abilities to use for His glory.  Paul tells the Ephesians, “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”

We go on mission trips, we serve other people around us because of our desire of being little Christs to other people.  We do this because of our love that we have for one another.  And you never know how that love or the servitude could make a difference in a person’s life.  That servitude might set an example for that person to display.  It also might open the door to share with the people we are serving to be an opportunity to witness.  They might wonder, “Well, why are you helping me out?”  We know the answer it’s because God first loved us so we want to show that same type of love to those around us.  Also, when we do serve others we are blessed as well.  I know I felt blessed to get to serve that first couple’s house we went to the first two days.  They were just so appreciative for what we did and you could see how happy they were that we came there to help them out.  Even if you don’t see the person you are serving being appreciative you are still feel blessed because you know accomplished something and helped someone.  I know a common thing I heard was, “I just felt proud because of what we got done.”

Now, none of the service we did this week compares to the act of service of what Christ has done for us.  He went to the cross and sacrificed His body because of our sins.  And that was completely unexpected.  His disciples didn’t even think that Jesus was going to suffer and die on the cross.  In our Gospel Reading for today Jesus foretold His death.  And Peter was adamantly disagreed that Jesus was going to die in that way.  My question for you right now is could you really blame the disciples for feeling that way?  I mean what did Jesus do wrong?  Did He hurt people?  Did He cheat others?  Was He a murderer?  The answer to all of those questions is no!  Jesus healed people.  Jesus was honest with all those He came across.  And Jesus was not a murderer.  Jesus led a perfect life.  When you think about of the things great things Jesus did in His life you can understand why the disciples didn’t believe Him.

Even though it was unexpected to the rest of the world that Jesus was going to die on the cross.  Jesus knew that it was the only way.  It was the only way to save the world from suffering for all eternity because of the sins we have committed.  No matter how many acts of service we have done in our life they would never cancel out the amount of debt our sins have accrued throughout our lives.  We would always just come up a little bit short.  Jesus on the other hand lived a perfect life.  He was the spotless lamb that was led to the slaughter to pay the price for our sins.  He didn’t do this to boost His confidence in Himself but He did it because He loves you and me, and the rest of the world.  Jesus would have gone through with it even if you were the only person who had a debt of sin.  He doesn’t want to see anyone suffer fro eternity.  He loves each of us so dearly that He was willing to give up His life to spend eternity with all people.

Life is full of things we would never expect.  For example you might not know that Dr. Dan has a great sense of humor. The one night when we went through our highs and lows of the day, he said his low for the day was, “Lowes is nation wide hardware store.”  I don’t think that is the exact quote but he had a great play on words with his low.  None of us knew what to expect during the past week.  We didn’t know of the unexpected mishaps that would take place, the new friends that we meet at the camp, the wonderful people we would work, and what all was going to happen.  Even though we didn’t know, we served because of God.  It was because of our love for Him that we wanted to serve those around us.  I know we accomplished great things this week, and everybody here should be proud of our group.  I am truly thankful for each and every person that went with us this week and proud to be a part of this team.  But there is something I’m more thankful for and that is that Christ did the unexpected when He humbled Himself to serve you and me by dying on the cross.  It was that act of servitude that has earned us the greatest gift in the world, salvation!