from the desk of…Searching for the unexpected

By Victor Doughty, Lt. Colonel

Lately, I have spent a fair amount of time searching for the unexpected. Normally, I would not have to search very long or hard in order to experience the unexpected, but in this instance I needed to come up with something appropriate for the 2013 Youth Councils theme: “Unexpected.”

A cryptic message from a fortune cookie at my favorite “fast casual” Asian restaurant encouraged me in my quest: “You will find your solution where you least expect  it.” An intriguing paradox for sure; finding things in the most unexpected places. A concept not unlike losing your life to find it, the last being first, or the requirement that those seeking greatness must first become servants of all. On another occasion, I might have enjoyed pursuing such a path in exploring this topic but I was drawn to consider the unexpected as recorded in Acts chapters 3-4.

There we find a man disabled from birth who expects Peter and John to give him some money as the two disciples pass through the gate called “beautiful” on their way to afternoon prayers.

But on this particular day, instead of receiving a few sympathetic coins, a miracle happens. An unexpected act of kindness takes place. The disabled man is made whole. He is able to walk for the first time in his life. And, as you would expect, he is absolutely elated.

The onlookers who witness this unexpected miracle are completely awe-struck—filled with surprise, wonder and amazement. They can’t believe what they are seeing. Meanwhile, the religious leaders of the day are both dismayed and astonished by this miracle. They cannot understand how uneducated, ordinary men like Peter and John could possibly be used by God to accomplish such things.

As always, the Bible is crystal clear: It is not the “power or godliness” of Peter and John that heals this man but God’s power; the power of Jesus’ name at work doing unexpected things through them (Acts 3:12 NIV).

I believe that God is searching today for unexpected potential in unexpected people who are willing to do unexpected things for his kingdom. Like Peter and John, we are God’s silver and gold. We are the very best God has to offer a sin-sick, weary world where unexpected, often unwelcome and sometimes profoundly disturbing events threaten to rob us of our humanity.

In recent days we have seen incredible heroism, compassion and kindness directed toward those impacted by these unexpected events. In every case, the consecrated self we offer in service to others is always the most personal, the most powerful, the most precious gift we bring. It is a treasure we carry in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Corinthians 4:7).


Through the love of God our Savior all will be well;

Though we pass through tribulation, all will be well;

We expect  a bright tomorrow, all will be well.

Mary Peters (1813-56)

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