“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” said John Lennon. Well, I would never call it Scripture, but it’s certainly true. I was an active mother of two teen girls and a pastor’s wife with a busy speaking ministry of my own. Fibromyalgia had reduced my crazy-meter two clicks below hysterics, but my family and I were still busy five out of seven nights a week. Then it happened. Mommy crashed. One morning in July 2002, my body rebelled and refused to lift me out of bed.“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” said John Lennon. Well, I would never call it Scripture, but it’s certainly true. I was an active mother of two teen girls and a pastor’s wife with a busy speaking ministry of my own. Fibromyalgia had reduced my crazy-meter two clicks below hysterics, but my family and I were still busy five out of seven nights a week. Then it happened. Mommy crashed. One morning in July 2002, my body rebelled and refused to lift me out of bed. For six months, I needed help to walk to the bathroom, all strength gone. Doctors were perplexed. I was devastated. Then I got mad. How was I supposed to care for my family and minister to God’s people from a bed? So I started complaining to the only One who could stand my constant whining. My laptop became my journal, and I began writing my laments—and lessons. The devotionals, retreat topics and novels that blossom in my heart today are a result of that ministry shift on that awful July morning. I planned to build a nationwide speaking ministry. Life happened, and God used the opportune moment to take my life a different direction—using His power, not my own. Life on God’s terms.
Acts 2:1 – “When the day of Pentecost came, they [the 120 disciples and fellow believers] were all together in one place.”
Pentecost, or the “Feast of Weeks” as it was called in the Old Testament, was a celebration held fifty days after Passover to commemorate the completion of the grain harvest. Sort of like our American Thanksgiving. Now, let’s review. Jesus said to wait in Jerusalem for a gift the Father would give in order to have power to minister to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and all the world. BUT you’re locked up and hiding with these 120 people for fifty days—partly because you’re praying, partly because you’re terrified of the Jewish leaders. Puts a damper on the ministry and the celebration, eh? Not necessarily…
Acts 2:2-4 – “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
Okay, when Jesus said the disciples would be witnessed to “…the ends of the earth,” I doubt any of them imagined the ends of the earth coming to their little house in Jerusalem. No doubt they planned to go OUT rather than wait for God to come IN. No doubt they planned to perform signs and wonders rather than watch in astonishment as God did something totally NEW and unpredictable. But isn’t that God’s way? When we remain obedient and available, He uses the opportune moment to do something lavish and spectacular. There is great freedom when we embrace our role as workable clay and allow the Master Potter to for us as opportune moments arise.
Acts 2:5-11 – “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’”
The nation of Israel was exiled to Assyria in 722 BC, and its sister nation, Judah, exiled to Babylon in 587 BC. Subsequent world powers wrestled: Medo-Persians, Greeks, and then Romans ruled the known world during Christ’s earthly ministry (6 BC – 30 AD). Since the time of that first Israelite exile, however, Jews dispersed throughout the known world maintained their faith in Yahweh and faithfully returning to the crown of Yahweh’s heart, Jerusalem. These “God-fearers” came for the yearly Feast of Weeks, but were within ear-shot of a strange-sounding wind and the sound of their native language from Galilean voices. Just as the disciples were willing to offer ministry at an opportune moment, these foreign Jews had an opportunity to receive something more than they’d anticipated! When ministry looks different, sounds different or is located in a different place than we expect, can we look beyond the circumstance and marvel at the God who has arranged the opportune moment?
Acts 2:12-13 – “Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’ Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.”
Consider this. In the whole city of Jerusalem, this hodge-podge of pilgrims come together within ear-shot of this particular house, where 120 people are packed in like sardines, speaking in the specific native tongues of the nations represented. Is that not amazing? How would you react? Well, some react to the opportune moment with amazement. Some mock the moment and the obedient disciples. The same is true today. Though God continues to grandly design opportune moments, some stand amazed, and some mock. Those who recognize God’s design are NOT called to be the opportunity police, correcting those who mock. We are called to “be wise in the way [we] act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity” (Col. 4:5). Live in the opportune moments, and keep planning…maybe someday you’ll actually get to use it!
- Lord, I’m so thankful that You’re bigger than my plans. Help me lean into Your power, Your wisdom and Your sufficiency when life seems to be spinning out of control. Remind me that You are never surprised by anything and that every circumstance is an opportune moment for You to do something NEW and unpredictable in my life.