And God said, "Surprise."

God does indeed work in mysterious and unexpected ways. His leading often comes when you least expect it. You think you should be heading in one direction, but you can’t shake the subtle but relentless pull in another. What does He have for you there? What is waiting? 
Of course, we can (and frequently do) downplay such leadings or try to ignore them. Sometimes that works . . . for a while. But they persist, change shape and reappear in other forms. It’s as if a great celestial GPS was constantly “recalculating,” to find a new route for us to reach God’s intended destination.

At other times, the leading is strong enough to sweep us off our feet, slam us against the wall or hit us over the head. God’s recipe—and repertoire—for obedience are different for all of us. Consider me just before Easter a year ago.

An auditorium in a distant city. I had traveled there for this purpose alone (or so I thought)—to attend a performance as a surprise for a friend who was singing one of the solo parts in an Easter oratorio called the Lamb of God. While the lights were still up, I looked at the program and read about what I was to experience.

“Lamb of God is a sacred musical retelling of the final days of the life of Jesus Christ, His Atonement and Resurrection.  Written and composed by Rob Gardner, it recounts the events through the eyes of those who loved Him and knew Him best: Peter, John, Thomas, Mary and Martha of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, and His mother Mary.”  

Hmmm. Sounds great. But, in truth, I was more focused on how clever I had been to plan this unannounced visit. I hoped he would be impressed and touched at the great lengths I had gone to show my support. I even envisioned a reunion years down the road, a happy gathering of friends and families, when he would fondly recall, “Hey, Jen. You remember when you came to see me in Lamb of God?” 

Then the lights went down, the music began, and it was God’s turn. I had come to see an oratorio performed. But in short order I knew I had a date with majesty. What unfolded in front, around and within me was a miraculous coming together of music, voice and the spoken word, all orchestrated to perfection by the Holy Spirit. I was totally unprepared for how beautiful, how moving and how powerful it all was. “Surprise,” the Father said.

As surprises go, I thought mine was kind of a big deal. But the one that washed over me now in wave after wave of disbelief was of epic proportions—a 65-piece orchestra, a choir 180 voices strong, 15 vocal soloists and the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit. I was overwhelmed. I was enriched and nourished. 

By the end of the performance, there was a still, small voice wondering aloud into my ear: “How can this message be extended so others may be fed and inspired by it beauty and power? I need to bring this to Kalamazoo.” 

My doubtful human self responded immediately "What? How could I possibly do this? Where would I hold it? How could I find and assemble the performers? How will I ever have the time necessary to do this? What will it cost? Be sensible, Jen.”

But this time cautious practicality had no chance of winning this tug of war. By the end of the second performance the next evening, God was hitting me over the head with His bring-this-to-Kalamazoo message.

So here we are, several months downstream, marching through a countdown to 2014’s Easter season—March 21 and 22 to be specific. The venue is set, the website is live, volunteers are stepping forward, and I am recruiting musicians, vocalists and narrators. Is it daunting? You bet. Are the obstacles large and numerous? Absolutely. Am I deterred? Not in the least. It’s what happens when you let faith replace fear.

You see, I have an abiding faith that our Heavenly Father will equip all of us to meet the challenges He calls us to. He has called me to bring a miracle to Kalamazoo. I believe if I do my part, He will surely do His. And for all those who perform, volunteer or attend on those upcoming evenings in March—I am certain God will speak quietly and powerfully to you as he has to me: “Surprise!”

Jen Randall

Jen Randall is president of Maestro, one of Kalamazoo, Michigan’s most exciting high-tech companies.