Matthew 13:13 Now when Jesus heard (John the Baptist had been beheaded), he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.
The gospel narratives clearly describe the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist. It was John who first led a group of disciples, calling people into the wilderness to repent of their sin and to be baptized in the River Jordan. Jesus is believed to have been one of John’s disciples before emerging as a leader in his own right. Yet, this was always what John had expected. John said in John 3:30 “He (Jesus) must increase and I must decrease”. John knew that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah and that he himself was a prophet preparing the way for Jesus’ ministry.
But I’m pretty sure even John was surprised by how this actually went down.
I expect John planned to retire to Florida one day after many years as a prophetic leader, passing the torch to Jesus in due season. Beheading was probably not what he was expecting. But here’s an important truth:
God will often choose to do things differently than we expect.
My family situation seemed to always be in flux when I was growing up. I went to five different high school in only four years. There was divorce and remarriage and divorce and remarriage – and lots of geographical relocation. I can remember praying to the Lord as a younger man that my adult life would be more stable. And I believe the Lord has delivered on my request – just not in the way I’d anticipated.
While my own nuclear family has been remarkably stable (married 27 years in July), I have not experienced the geographical stability I’d hoped for. I’d always imagined our grandkids one day riding their bikes in the very driveway where our own children learned to ride. It was not to be. There have been several moves since our children were little. Yet, in every way that matters, the Lord has granted my wish.
So let me ask you, are you still waiting on the Lord to fulfill a dream of yours? Sometimes an answer to prayer takes much longer than we anticipate. But sometimes the Lord answers prayers – just not in the way we might expect. Could this be true in your case? Let’s pray.
Lord, as we begin our journey through the season of Lent, give us grace to draw closer to you. Help us to remain faithful when our dreams appear to be deferred, or even denied. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.