When God Surprises You


I know God and His supernatural workings in the world shouldn’t surprise us (he is, after all, God). But often God does something that we just didn’t expect or see coming, and last week was one of those times.

I had the privilege of teaching over 1,200 pre-teen children at one of the Christian summer camps in Texas: Mt. Lebanon Baptist Camp (Dallas area). It was the Wednesday morning chapel and here’s what happened….

I called up a random volunteer from the audience, a young girl about 11 or 12. I performed a juggling trick that my friend and mentor David Cain once taught me – a trick where I ask a kid to open their Bible to any random page and then I read their Bible while juggling (the point is that we’re never too busy to not read God’s Word). So the young girl picked a random page and held the Bible upright towards my face as I juggled 3 clubs and read from the top of the page. I struggled through the passage slowly because her Bible was in very fine print and I also had 3 juggling clubs flying through my vision.

Here is the passage I read:

“You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest? (Isaiah 29:16, 17 NIV)”

The passage continues like this in the next verse:

“In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. (Isaiah 29:18 NIV)”

At first, my brain told me not to make a superficial connection between the naming of “Lebanon” and the fact that we were at Mt. Lebanon Camp. After all, the original intent of the author Isaiah was not to speak about a camp in Cedar Hill, TX in the year 2013.

But my heart saw the connection and received it as a special encouraging Word from The Lord as a reminder that He is in charge and that He will do great things in the hearts of these kids at Mt. Lebanon Camp (as He will at many other camps this summer). After pondering it, I saw no contradiction in Scripture to interpreting it as such. And so God surprised me with a simple reminder that He will turn dry fields into fertile places, including the young people attending this camp.

And that evening at camp (and throughout the week as well), God moved in the hearts of loads of young people as they took their first step of faith in following Jesus Christ. Praise God for His mighty hand of grace – and His still small voice in a seemingly random Scripture reading during a juggling trick.

Has God ever spoken to you in a special way when you seemingly opened your Bible to a random spot?

It reminds me of when Jesus took the scroll in the Nazareth synagogue and read from it. Scroll reading back then was like a lectionary, where there is a chosen Scripture for each synagogue meeting that follows the calendar. The reading that day when Jesus read was a perfectly matched prophecy from Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18, 19 NIV)”

That reading was not random for Jesus, and I don’t believe our reading at Mt. Lebanon was random either.

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.