Expecting the Unexpected

“Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass.” Nehemiah 2:14

Nehemiah is surveying the ruin of the city wall of Jerusalem. He’s gone out at night secretly because he’s keeping his purpose for coming to Jerusalem a secret until he’s fully ready, and part of his being ready means that he needs to have first hand knowledge of the actual condition of the wall.

He makes his night time examination of the situation on horse or donkey back, scripture doesn’t specify which, because there’s a lot of wall to look at. Archeologists believe that the the wall extending around the circumference of the city was about three miles long and in some places the rubble was so thick it was impossible for Nehemiah to ride his animal along the route of the wall.

It occurs to me that perhaps the situation was worse than Nehemiah had hoped it would be. The task of merely clearing the broken down rubble away so that the foundation could be exposed and the rebuilding could begin was of itself daunting.

I remember when Cheryl and I moved into our first house after becoming a pastor in upstate New York. My father and I had unloaded the truck the afternoon before and we’d stayed the night in a hotel. In the morning my father left to visit my grandparents and Cheryl and I went back to the house to begin settling in.

Every room was piled at least half way to the ceiling with boxes and furniture. It was so overwhelming to our already tired bodies and minds that we decided that we were going to leave it and go a day early to work at camp meeting. We’d start taking care of it in ten days.

Maybe Nehemiah had some of the same feelings of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task he had before him, and his task was a hundred times more complicated than ours had been. But Nehemiah now knows what he needs to know and he hasn’t let any of the already downtrodden people he needs to inspire to correct the mess see him at any times when doubt may have crossed his face. There was time to think and pray before engaging with the people.

I’ve learned that it’s best to expect things to be more complicated and difficult that you imagine they’ll be. Expect the unexpected. This means that after you’ve made your plans and calculated for any contingencies that you soberly turn to God and ask him to provide for everything that you can’t see or imagine. God sees and knows everything, he may not reveal everything you’ve missed to you, but he will prepare you to meet every challenge if you’ll let him.

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