Embracing the Unexpected

I came across the story of King David’s appointment as king in 1 Samuel 16 this week and I was struck anew with the beauty of the story and the place it came from. Samuel’s story in itself is unique as retold in the beginning of the book. His mother Hannah was unable to have children and then cried out to the Lord with a promise that if He would give her a child that she would give him back to the Lord as an offering. Eventually Samuel became the main priest of Israel and granted their request for a king through a valiant man named Saul. But Saul didn’t follow through on his commitment to the Lord, and so it was decided against Saul’s will that the Lord would anoint another king to take his place. Saul was absolutely furious and determined that this would not happen, and Samuel was sad that the man he first anointed as king was not living up to God’s expectation.

And we find Samuel sad in Chapter 16:

“The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way: I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, I have chosen one of his sons to be king’” 1 Samuel 16: 1 (NIV)

I can imagine how Samuel was feeling here, as he was disappointed in everything that had taken place. He prayed and granted the people’s request for a king and found someone God would anoint only to find out after all this work, God actually had someone else in mind. Someone better of course because God always knows better than we do, but at the time I’m sure this wasn’t as clear as it is to us who know the rest of the story.

Do you ever feel like that? Bummed because what you thought God was doing turned out not to be very good after all… or so it may seem at the time.

The summer before my senior year in college was one of those times for me. I felt like nothing was working out and the things I thought God was doing actually weren’t what He was doing at all. My plan was to go back to Kenya like I did the year before and co-lead a group of girls from Baylor. Then, I thought I would spend the rest of my summer interning with refugee ministries on the west coast and figuring out which grad school I would go to. Instead, I didn’t get the scholarship I was working on for grad school, the internship I wanted didn’t seem sustainable and my parents didn’t want to sponsor me at an unpaid internship again, and I felt no peace about going back to Kenya.

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When I found out I got a job to work back near my hometown in Denver for a mission organization, I was so disappointed. It felt like I was settling for going back home and all the adventures I felt like God was calling me to just weren’t working out. But God had such good plans and I am so thankful He didn’t let me get my way.

 

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This was at the beginner of the summer, little did we know Drew and I (in the middle) would later get married and the other two would stand by our side that day.

Little did I know that God has plans for me to meet some of the people I treasure most now in this world: Bailey, Jacob, and my now husband Drew! Thank you Jesus that you had your way with my summer and not the way I wanted it to work out. We worked so hard all summer introducing high school groups to the city and I fell in love with Denver. After college I had the chance to intern with them for almost a year and then marry my best friend Drew in 2014. I had no idea about all of this at the time, and if I would have spent my time mourning the way my plans didn’t work out, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the beauty and importance of that season in my life.

I love the way the story of Samuel continues in a similar way as the Lord teaches him a very important lesson that has become one of my favorite verses.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16: 7 (NIV)

Samuel was looking at all of Jesse’s sons, and he assumed that God would choose the oldest or the strongest or someone that at least looked like what you would expect out of a king. But as he went down the line from the oldest of Jesse’s sons, God kept telling Samuel that they were not the ones. So Jesse had to go out and get his youngest son, David, who was out tending sheep. David was anointed and is known to us today as a man after God’s own heart. This may not be the first thing we look for in a king, but David is considered by many to be the greatest king that ever lived.

In the same way, God was about the business of the heart in my summer. I knew I was about to graduate and I wanted to go around the country build my resume, prepare for grad school and figure out my way back to Africa.

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Here we are recreating our skyline photo during our engagement session.

I am so thankful that God understood the heart of that summer more than I did. Sure, it didn’t necessarily have the outward appearance of something amazing, and it didn’t build my resume like I thought that summer was supposed to do. But God did something deeper. He refined my heart, introduced me to people that help me love deeper and reminded me of the ways I can find Him in the most unexpected places.