he tattoo said “Amber.” It was a large ornate piece of artwork that covered a great deal of his arm. And as this military man expected the arrival of his first child, he looked forward to the day his little girl would proudly gaze upon the expensive (and probably painful) marking bearing her name and smile brightly; knowing that daddy was so proud of her he wanted to display her name everywhere he went.
Unfortunately, children are full of surprises. I, myself an expectant father, cannot fathom the unexpected that will accompany my little one (due yesterday and still giving her anxious parents no signs of arrival). This new father witnessed his wife’s labor, coached her as best he could, and felt his heart leap for joy when he heard the baby cry. But when the nurse handed him his little bundle he got his first surprise.
“It’s a boy.”
The nurse at our parenting class told us this true story a few weeks ago. When she asked the man what he was going to do, he shook off the shock and mumbled: “Keep trying until we have Amber.” Amen.
The lesson is twofold. The first lesson is: don’t get a tattoo until after your baby is born. True enough. The second lesson is: no matter what life throws at you, be adaptable and work with what you have.
No doubt this father was disappointed and felt a bit sheepish, but at least he wasn’t going to give up—and the Bible supports this mind-set.
When Jesus came to earth a lot of people had ideas about what and how He should be. Early on, His disciple Nathaniel had some ideas about Him. And when confronted with the prospect of the lowly Jesus, Nathaniel’s reply was: “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).* But later, after encountering Jesus, he exclaimed, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (verse 49). He was willing to adapt his ideas and work with the Jesus who came to earth.
Another great example comes from the book of Acts. Philip was ministering to a eunuch, the eunuch responded with a desire for baptism, and they both went down to the river. But instead of a warm embrace after coming out of
the water, “the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more” (Acts 8:39).
The eunuch could have rightly complained to God for taking away his minister. And Philip, before he knew it, “was found at Azotus” (verse 40). How would you like to be interrupted in your evangelistic success only to be placed somewhere else? But instead of having a temper tantrum (which never happens in the church today) because they didn’t get their way, they used the means still in their control and adapted. The eunuch “went on his way rejoicing,” and Philip, while passing through Azotus, “preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.”
The best advice when circumstances change our plans, our directions, or our approach to spiritual things is to remember the words of Paul: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Whatever we do—sometimes there’s not a lot we can do. Sometimes we don’t want to do anything.
When change comes (and it will come) it is easy to make it a theological issue, based on a sentimental reaction to perceived threats to cherished ideas, methods, or places. Instead of reacting negatively to the changes in your life, pick up the things over which God has given you control and adapt.
It may be rejoicing in the unexpected blessings that come while still trying for the original expected blessing; it may be working with someone who is different from what you think they should be; it may be continuing on in a different location; or it may simply be rejoicing as God works in mysterious ways forcing you out of your comfort zone. Whatever you find to do in a world that doesn’t always cooperate with what we want, may you do it to God’s glory. And may He continue to guide you as you do.
Seth Pierce recently completed his M.Div. at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. He and his wife, Angela, were recently joined by Madeline Claire, born November 30, 2007.