Recently I read about a short guy that saved the world WITHOUT shoes, saw a flower growing out of a cement wall and watched a goat eat a banana peel like candy. Normal day, right? Perhaps I should explain myself…

 

Several experiences in my life lately have one more proved to me that God knows more than I do. (Although I still don’t know why I pretend it’s the other way around…) I’ll start with the goat!

Upon visiting the furthest western city in Tanzania in mid-September I saw where the United Methodist Church was started by missionaries from, not the US or Europe but, the Democratic Republic of Congo. (DRC) I spent a lot of time with a pastor and his family there and part of that family included a bug-eyed goat with a peculiar palate. One day after lunch I watched the goat vacuum up the crumbs and leftovers from lunch and, out of complete curiosity, asked if the goat also ate banana peels. He said let’s find out and sure enough…they do! I wanted to tell the goat (and those of you that know me understand that yes I did indeed try to converse with said goat) that animals “shouldn’t” consider the peel appealing (except in Mario Kart….then it’s absolutely necessary!) But he ate, enjoyed and repeated the following days. What a Tanzanian-twist on the proverb “one man’s trash is another [goat’s] treasure!” And it’s a great reminder that when we see our lives (or even ourselves) as a waste, God sees treasure of great worth waiting to be discovered or simply peeled open…

Also on this voyage to the edge and back, I read all 1300+ pages of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (along with the Hobbit!) Simply INCREDIBLE! But, really, what else do you do with 57 hours round trip in a bus? It was a glorious story about Frodo, the small hobbit, that saves all of Middle Earth by taking a self-less adventure to save his friends and countryside. And he does it barefoot because that’s just how hobbits live. (So I guess it’d be a challenge to walk a mile in his shoes then?) But again I noticed the unlikeliness of this small person, a halfling, to save ALL the world filled with brave men, wise wizards, and intellectual elves and stalwart dwarves. But isn’t that just how God works? God takes the “unable” and makes the impossible happen. If that isn’t hope for each one of us then I don’t know what is!

I also stumbled across the oddity of a flower growing directly out of a concrete wall 3 feet from the ground. Apparently no one told this flower that’s not how things work here but it’s hanging in there nonetheless. Isn’t it amazing when something beautiful seems to stem from nowhere? My grandfather has written several books about such serendipitous experiences. His stories have taught me that beauty is everywhere and God is visible to those looking.

How’s this for unexpected….5 years ago I was hiking on a trail with some friends in the Tennessee mountains and as we crossed a river, I found a nice Wilson volleyball. We hadn’t seen anyone else on the trail all day so I picked it up and it joined us the rest of the way. For 4 years it rested in the trunk of my car save for the impromptu beach volleyball match. Then when I decided to come and serve in Tanzania, Wilson joined me too. Now the girls at our school use it to play netball on their newly-made court. So from a Tennessee river to a Tanzanian school ground, this volleyball has found its purpose. My life is similar to this volleyball…and perhaps yours too! Moving forward not certain of where I’m going but certain that I’ll be well-used wherever. Then looking back on the path that brought me here I can only smile, laugh and praise God. Knowing I am, for this moment, where I am supposed to be is a reassuring feeling.

 

Life is full of meaning and a lot of those lessons come from the most unlikeliest of places. Where have you seen or experienced God unexpectedly lately?

May your life be an expected place of God’s compassion and peace to others that cross your path…

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