He’s Never Doing Just One Thing

I don’t think He will ever stop surprising me…this powerful, loving, omniscient and intimate God of mine. Maybe that’s a good thing. I love surprises. Don’t you? Even when I think I am walking and do exactly what he is calling me to, I find surprising opportunities on the path, and what I’ve prepared for, while good, is not all He has in mind. A friend of mine puts it this way, “God is never doing just one thing.” I like that. I like to wonder what else He is working on. I like anticipating more, and then still being surprised by what the more is.

I have to be honest though, sometimes, I’m nervous about the surprise, and overwhelmed by the thought of anything else. I know He is working for my good. And I know He won’t drop the ball. I just also know that sometimes my good does not feel good. And I know that more often than not, His more puts me in over my head.

This last trip to Zambia was no exception—and this time the surprise was a good one, in a really big way. Two of my colleagues and I traveled to Zambia to work with three language groups from the region.These groups had completed their New Testament translations and were ready to learn how to use the checking tool my team has developed for affirming accuracy and meaningfulness of the text.  I was excited to work with them again as several of the translators had been at a workshop I led last year in Botswana. It is one of my passions to see our teams finish the projects they start. And this workshop was for exactly that purpose. I just didn’t know what else God had planned for.

As I walked into our hotel on Sunday afternoon, the clerk behind the desk, said to me, “You have a visitor waiting for you.” What? I thought. I don’t know anyone here? But I walked over, and there was a young man who introduced himself as a pastor from Botswana named George. He had heard about us through another pastor who had been to one of our workshops in Kenya. In George’s church, 9 languages without any Scripture are represented. His own language has no Scripture. So when he heard about our visit, he had to come and find out more. But this is a checking event. I thought. It wasn’t exactly the right fit for someone who was seeking more information on how to get started. With no real clear-cut plan I asked him to join us for a day or two and learn from the other translators. I invited him to watch the checking and ask questions. I had that strange notion of being in over my head–and still breathing.

On the first afternoon as we shared with George the overall method and process, he couldn’t stop smiling. He told us, “I give away English Bibles to people in my village, even ones who don’t read English very well. Because it’s all I have to offer them. They come and want a Bible. And I only have the English ones to give them.” His smile broadened. “I want them to have a Bible of their own—in their own language!”

“Let’s get started!” We suggested. “Why don’t you begin with your language?” He eagerly agreed. Over the next two days one of us devoted time to supporting George, as he drafted 25 verses in Luke 1! Then resent his draft it to his language community via WhatsApp to get their feedback and edits! George’s smile was constant. His joy contagious.

We all basked in the sweetness of God’s good surprises, and perfect plans–even when they do put us in over our heads.


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