The Lord said: “I am sending an angel to protect you and to lead you into the land I have ready for you.” Exodus 23:20 (CEV)

Life is full of surprises. Sometimes those surprises are humorous, like the other night when I heard a noise and went to investigate in the dark. It was on this adventure that I discovered that our cat was an efficient ‘mouser’. She left her catch for us, completely field dressed and lying on the living room carpet. Had I taken the time to turn on the lights, I wouldn’t have discovered this ‘surprise’ with my bare feet!

Sometimes, life’s surprises are frustrating, such as the night you save up for a date night, only to have a tire go flat on the way home from the date. A tire, mind you that you don’t have the money to fix, especially since you just spent your savings on a movie and dinner.

Life’s surprises can be devastating as well. Job loss, a call from the doctor regarding your tests, or finding out your spouse has been having an affair can send your world into a tailspin. Suddenly you are left to pick up the pieces of life and trying to put them together the best you can. It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without any idea of what the picture is supposed to look like when you are done.

The $64,000.00 question isn’t IF life will throw surprises your way, but how you will handle them. Moses knew what it was like to have surprises thrown his way. As he began his journey across the wilderness as leader of a bunch of rebellious people, God gave him a nugget that each of us can turn to when life’s surprises hit us.

In the midst of God’s instructions to his people he gives us hope for the times when surprises attack us. His words, “I’m sending an angel ahead of you…” should be encouragement to all of us. If you read on through the end of the chapter he promises us that if we will obey his words, trust him with our lives and remain faithful to him, he will guide us through the challenges and surprises we encounter.

Farmers will tell you that ground that has already been plowed is much easier to work. God promises us that he has gone before us. He has prepared the ground so that when we journey through we will have an easier time finding his direction.

Two things are important to remember, however. God has never promised that the journey will be easy. There will be struggles along the way. Secondly, while we hope for God’s promises to be fulfilled quickly, his timing is always best. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land they weren’t given all the land right away. God brought victory in his time and in his way so that his people would be ready for the tasks ahead.

God has seen your tomorrows. While we endure surprises along the way, nothing that crosses our path surprises him. The trials you are encountering are his way to strengthen you and prepare you for the journey ahead.

PRAYER: Father God, thank you for going before me. The surprises I encounter sometimes seem too great and without purpose. Thank you that you know my future and know what I need to carry on. Amen.