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  • Writer's pictureShelli Owen

Out of Nowhere?

“There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens…

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

He has also set eternity in the human heart;

yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end”

(Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11).

At the end of last week, I was going along doing what I thought needed doing, being where I thought I needed to be... Then, suddenly, out of “nowhere” God put someone else’s major need in my path.

I wasn’t prepared for it or expecting it, but I knew it was something the Lord had put in my way (my husband’s too). Knowing that was enough for a start.

There are ways to know what God’s will is and what it isn’t—but that’s another topic for another day.

Often, I pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and I want to be part of what He’s doing. But generally, at the same time, I also want to know in advance what He’s going to want me to do so I can prepare myself for it.

But having to be fully prepared, first, can sometimes be used as an excuse for not even inquiring into another’s needs. It’s an excuse that sometimes keeps me from beginning.

I forget that the Lord can see the end from the beginning and that He prepares people and situations to work together according to His will and in His timing. I know that sometimes He employs the “talents” He’s given us (interests, resources, health, strength, energy, skills), but that the main element He works through is our willingness and responsiveness to Him and His timing.

It’s never really about how prepared I am or how prepared I feel. The truth is, I’ve never been fully prepared going in to anything He’s ever given me to do or be for someone else. I don’t know why I still hope or expect to be. He only requires me to be willing and in place.

God will provide us—me and anyone else—with whatever is lacking that ends up being needed. We only have to ask, even though we may have to wait till the last minute before He sends His “answer” or provision.

Another human issue that often comes up for me in trying to do God’s will is “control.” It’s my desire to daily submit myself and commit myself to the Lord, to do His will, to align my own will with His. And thankfully He honors my “spirit” and commitment, even while out of habit and my flesh I still unwittingly go on attempting to manage things on my own.

I appreciate God’s loving kindness, patience, sense of humor and honor. He hasn’t generally addressed my efforts to do things my way, in my time, or by my own strength directly. He has just let me learn the futility of my independent efforts by experience.

Sometimes, through circumstances, He has discreetly or more obviously blocked or changed my plans, sometimes taking me in an altogether new direction than the one I had anticipated.

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to adjust myself to the Lord’s timing—whether jumping in or waiting. But it always ends up being well worth any temporary, even long-lived pain, discomfort or “inconvenience.” Adjusting is something I almost always need the Lord’s help with.

Sometimes His ways don’t seem very economical or efficient to me, until in retrospect I see what He has done. Then I see how He has simultaneously taken care of myriad things I had not even considered.

When I get to that place of actually submitting myself to His will—always with His Help—it’s only then I have the joy and peace of being in His will. Sometimes this means being able to see right away what He is doing with or through me. Some results, however, I may never get to see in my life time.

One way or another, it’s always a beautiful thing when God has coordinated things and brought things to work together. And it’s especially joyful when we get to take part in it or see it personally.

I won’t disclose, for the sake of the other persons’ privacy, what it was God “dropped” into my and my husband’s laps and put on our hearts this last week to respond to. Instead, I’d like to feature someone else’s experience.

Our daughter, Mary, who is a missionary in Papua New Guinea (PNG) with her husband Ben Grimm (and their three little children) shared an update this week with supporting family and friends. But first, a little background.

Last summer the Grimms came to the U.S. on furlough—meaning to stay for three months. Their travels were hindered and delayed significantly both coming and going because of miscommunicated COVID restrictions and government red-tape with visas. Through these bookend complications, the Lord taught them to trust in His will and timing more than ever.

When they finally arrived back in PNG, in October of last year, they continued to experience delays in getting back to their village and home in Baku. They had flown into the only international airport in PNG, which is in Port Moresby, the capital. Complications arose that prohibited them, for a time, from the next step in their journey, which was flying to Wewak.

Finally, they made it to Wewak (on the coast). From there it is generally a two-day journey by vehicle and boat to Baku in the interior.

As of this week (mid-January of the next year), they were still in Wewak and still had not yet been able to return home to Baku.

Here is their story (shared by Mary):

Well friends. Here we are, and here we hope not to be staying much longer. Lord willing, we will be leaving Wewak tomorrow and arriving in our village the next day. Lord Willing! Once again – I should say, as always – our lives have not gone as we planned. And once again, as always, God has proven Himself wiser, kinder, and more beautifully in control of the situation than we ever could hope to be.

Just for kicks I'll lay it out like this: ...A Happening and A History...

A Happening.

Kambaramba: We were praying about why we were still here in Wewak when a friend came over to speak with Ben about a first aid training they are organizing together. While he was with us, he received a call asking for his help in organizing relief for the village of Kambaramba. Right before Christmas 45 village houses were burned in retaliation for the death of a young man. Over 500 people were displaced without shelter or food and at a total loss as to how to rebuild. Ben and I both felt that this was a need that had been placed squarely in our path. Ben joined our friend the next day in flying out to assess the extent of the damage. He was struck by the severe nature of these people's need, with none of the lush jungle or year-round gardens that many people in the Sepik have access to for resources. We reached out to our network and within 24 hours people here in Wewak and across the world in Australia and the States were mobilized donating and contributing supplies. We were so deeply blessed by the generosity of Churches, businesses, and individuals, and we were so humbled by the opportunity to be a conduit for God's grace and provision to the people in Kambaramba. Ben had the privilege of joining the team that went out to distribute everything that was gathered for relief support – mosquito nets, sleeping mats, clothing, cooking supplies, water containers, tools, and food. God gave him the opportunity to share the gospel and encourage the villagers to embrace God's way of showing mercy instead of returning harm. He also had the blessing of speaking with some of the village leaders and learning about how they planned to move forward in rebuilding their community. God provided exactly what was needed for this effort, and we pray and believe that He will be with the people of Kambaramba as they rebuild.

A History.

God's Timing: We left Wewak believing we would spend Christmas and New Years in the village with our community there. When we were pulled back, we were confident that there was a good reason. Over the next week Benjamin was injured, our whole family got sick, parts for our motor were in another province, (our villages’ or tribes’ councilor) Clemence’s phone got stolen, and we learned that the government funds we had negotiated for finishing our health clinic building were being intercepted by a con-artist from our next-door village! Talk about a letdown. We learned some things about ourselves as we had to work through all of that. And I do believe God deepened our faith as He really pressed on that conviction we had professed, “God’s timing is perfect, and His plan is better than ours.” Weeks of waiting for motor parts, recovering from sickness, babying Ben’s injury, and feeling helpless in navigating an unfolding scenario of district level corruption had us somewhat discouraged but still firmly believing that God had a plan in all of this. Christmas. New Years. Kambaramba. The day we packed up relief supplies (for Kambaramba), we learned that our motor was fixed. The next day when Benjamin helped the team distribute those supplies, he had the opportunity to speak with our provincial governor about the situation in our district. Two days later the very person we needed to speak with about preparing an audit and investigation into the corruption in our district arrived in Wewak from the Capitol and came to meet with us and Clemence. In less than a week, our situation went from confused, stranded and helpless to rejoicing, mobile, and empowered. Welcome to the roller coaster that is our lives! And Praise God! Praise God, for pulling us back, for positioning us to bless others, and for providing a road both physically and figuratively to be able to move forward in serving our villages.

(She also thanked people for their prayers and support and shared specific prayer requests.)

--end of Mary’s update--

Being in a place to do God’s will is nothing like “fate.” Things do sometimes seem to just “happen” to you, but it’s never a passive or purposeless “happening.” Being part of what God is doing requires an active, always current response—a choice to surrender your own agenda to trust or rest in His.

Also, God’s Help and Assurance will be more real than the “happening” itself. Though I am often surprised by what I see God do with and through us, He is never surprised. But I think He takes delight in “surprising” us and in giving us joy in being a real part of the work He is doing on earth. His affirmation that He is with us, guiding us, and working through us is the greatest part of that joy.

I believe there are many Christians who would agree with me that there is no adventure, no thrill, no pleasure, no satisfaction, no comfort on earth like living one day at a time in step, exactly where the Lord has placed you, being what He’s given you to be, and doing what He would have you do, His way, in His love, and in His timing. Even when it means bearing a cross.

We are "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2).

None of us are called to His level of sacrifice or can even understand it beyond a glimpse. Jesus was willing to suffer unimaginable pain and separation from God for a time, and in complete innocence go through beatings, mocking, and other tortures, even to His cruel death on a Roman cross. Even put there by His “brothers” (fellow Jews) and by all who have ever sinned (all of us). He did all this in order to complete the Father's will and purpose for Him.

He knew His temporary suffering would bring a lasting, beautiful, glorious work, a work above all works—the salvation, the reuniting of many souls to God. This is the work we are called to take a part in.

Lord, my part is small, and many times I mainly experience the joy and not the suffering, but I still struggle to do your will in all things. Help and strengthen me. I know you always make a way.


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