Steven Furtick - You Never Really Know
God is constantly keeping us guessing, isn't he? Do you like surprises? You may have had a different answer if I had asked you six months ago, "Do you like surprises"? But now we're like, "You know what? No. I'm good on surprises until 2032". You're going to be surprised about some things when you get to heaven. One thing you're going to be surprised about maybe is who your neighbor is in heaven next door in the condominium. You might be surprised who has a bigger house than you in heaven. Who God really used on earth will not always be whose name we knew. Even on earth, Jesus was full of surprises. I like that the disciples were surprised, because it lets me know that it's okay that sometimes I get caught off guard. I thought God was going to do this, and then he does that. I thought my life was going to look like this, and then it looks like that. I thought this person was always going to be my friend, but I didn't know they were going to stab me in the back and go take what I tried to give them and do something else with it. But that's okay, because his disciples were surprised too.
God is constantly keeping us guessing. I almost wish I could read John, chapter 4, again for the first time, because now I know how it ends. It would have been cool if I could have wiped your memory. Don't you wish you could see Shawshank Redemption again for the first time? Wouldn't it be amazing just to see Andy Dufresne crawl through the sewer, to hear Morgan Freeman narrate the life of Tim Robbins again for the first time? It's still good, but I kind of wish I could see it… Because I didn't see that coming the first time. Have you ever been watching a movie and you thought you knew exactly where it was going to go, but then out of nowhere…? I remember the first time I saw A Beautiful Mind. It messed with my mind. I did not see that coming. Have you ever been going through your life, going through your day, just minding your own business, like the disciples trying to go get a burger, and all of a sudden, God disrupts your expectation of how your day was supposed to go? And sometimes God doesn't even let you know it's him doing it.
Now, every disruption is not recognized as divine, because the disciples had no idea what he wanted. They still thought he wanted Chick-fil-A. Closed on Sundays. They didn't know he was doing something much bigger than a #1. He was doing something much bigger than a drive-through. Don't you know that God has scripted a much bigger arc for your life than how you feel this week? See, we never know. Any given day, we wake up and we never expect. It's never the things you expect that set your life in a different direction. Have you noticed this? It's never the things you expect. When you came to that lunch and you sang me that song, you never knew we'd be writing songs for Elevation Worship. You were just coming to the lunch. You were just a new staff member. It's the little things. But you came to the lunch, and you were one of the first 12 in there. I said, "Who are you"? "I'm Tiffany". "What do you do"? "I sing". "Sing me a song". And you had a song. But you didn't know when you woke up that morning. You never know. That's why we have to continue to approach each day like it is the day the Lord has made, because you never know.
That woman didn't know she was about to meet her Maker. She didn't know she was about to meet a man who could not only tell her everything she had done but could show her what was within her that others did not see. Plot twist. You came to get water, but you're about to meet the well. Plot twist. You accidentally clicked on this YouTube channel, but you're about to get a word from God. It never ceases to amaze me the way God kind of sets things up. Just about when you think… I mean, it's noon. It's the hottest part of the day. There's nobody around. Nobody is expecting it. Jesus isn't supposed to even be talking to this woman as a rabbi, and just when she expected it the least, she received the greatest revelation of her life.
Now, for me, on Father's Day… My dad was crazy in a good way and a bad way, and my relationship with my dad was really, really great and it was really complicated. When he was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and he realized he would die but we didn't have an exact time frame for it, some really bizarre events transpired in our house. I don't like to talk about all of it, because it's not completely my story to share. But even within my mom's decision to forgive him for some things he did during that period, there was a little while… I was just reflecting on this for Father's Day, because Graham and I were throwing the baseball, and I connected all of that to when I was 12 and my dad throwing the baseball, but then also I connected it to when I was 32 and we weren't even on speaking terms. One Father's Day I hadn't spoken to him in months, and every time we would speak, it would get into a shouting match. I don't think I had the wisdom to know how to relate to him through his pain. And he was being a jerk. I'm going to put that on the record. He's in heaven now. He made it in. But he was being a jerk, and I was probably a little immature as well. It put us in a weird spot.
Do you remember where we were coming from? Was it Florida? We were coming on Father's Day. I asked you to drive, and I made the list. I said, "I'm going to write a list of 32 things I remember from my dad that are good, and let's take it by his house". And we stopped by. I won't tell the full story now. Many of you have heard me tell it before, how I kind of shoved the list at him with a bad attitude. "Happy Father's Day"! And it opened a door. Really through my mom's grace and compassion and forgiveness, I was able to be a part of his life like he was a part of mine as a boy in the very last days. But what I wanted to tell you about… And I don't know who this is for. I didn't want to preach a message just for fathers, but on Father's Day, it got me thinking about the plot twists of our lives and how important it is that we be attuned to what the Holy Spirit is doing in us, because we never know.
I was preaching in 2013 on a series called The Expectation Gap. I should probably pull that one back out, because that's where we're living right now: the gap between what you expect and what you experience. Listen to this. It's the craziest story maybe that I've ever experienced. I preached the 9:30 at Elevation Blakeney. I usually preach the 11:30, and we were about to go on our family vacation for June. Something told me, instead of preaching the 11:30, to run the sermon back. I don't go with every idea I have and call it the Holy Spirit. I'd be in prison if I did that, because sometimes I think some really crazy thoughts, and some days I'd never get out of bed if I just went with what I felt. So I'm not one of those guys, but I just felt it. It was like, "You need to just play the thing back". Again, I'm arguing with God. Like, "You're not supposed to go through Samaria, Jesus. We don't do that". I'm like, "Well, God, I'm going on a vacation for a few weeks. I'm about to get a break. I don't need a break at 11:30. So I'll just preach that, and then I'll get a break". But something told me to leave. As I was leaving, something told me to stop by and see my dad and my mom.
When I walked in, my dad was so surprised. In fact, he was completely confused. His disease had progressed to the point where he had very little movement, and my mom was doing everything for him, and hospice was involved, but his mind was still very sharp. He had his iPad out, and he was about to watch the 11:30 worship experience of Elevation Church. Just as on the iPad I was coming onstage, I was walking into his house. He couldn't move his head around too much, but he looked back at the iPad and looked at me and looked at the iPad, and he said, "How are you…? You're here but you're there but you're here. Who's preaching if you're here"? I said, "Dad, I just decided to come over and see you. They're going to run back the 9:30, and I'm going to watch myself preach with you". One of the things he had asked me for when we were not speaking to one another… Just before we stopped speaking to one another, he had asked me if I could show him how much he meant to me by canceling something that was important to show him that he was more important. I thought, "Well, that's childish. Of course I care for you. I mean, look at all I try to do for you. I'm a good son," and this and that. He wasn't having it. When I walked in, I realized, "This is that moment for me to be with him".
I sat on the edge of the bed, and he watched the sermon. It's really awkward watching yourself preach. It's painful. I don't like to do it, but I did it. When I finished and walked off the stage… I promise you I'm going to go back to John 4 in a minute. When I walked off the stage, my dad said, "Preacher man gone, out the back door. Time for Hubatka". Because Larry Hubatka would come out and do the close. I'd go this way, and Larry Hubatka would go that way. I hugged him and I said, "I love you. I'll see you when we get back from vacation". And my mom called me at 1:00 a.m. and said, "Your dad only has hours to live. He's not speaking. You need to get here quickly". We got there in the middle of the night, and we sang his favorite hymns. And then I ran out of hymns, and I started singing CCR, and then I ran out of classic rock songs. We sang and we sat with him, and I was with him when he breathed his last breath.
I told you that because you never know. You must go through some area. This woman who's just coming to get water finds out that while she's trying to fill her jar, God is trying to fill her. She becomes the first evangelist to the Samaritans in the time of the ministry of Jesus. Plot twist. But that's not really what I wanted to preach to you about today. What really got my attention for Father's Day was in verse 5. Verse 5 says, "So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph". Near the plot. See, when I read that verse, I realized, "This is generational". I mean, of all of the sermons I have heard preached about this woman who had five husbands and she's living with the sixth and she's loose and she's thirsty… I realized that this did not start with her. I realized the conflict between the Samaritans and the Jews did not start in John, chapter 4. Even the phrase… It said, "Near the plot of ground…"
Why would John, who only had 21 chapters to tell us who Jesus was…his glory, full of grace and truth… He only has so much room, and he stops to tell us that it happened… I mean, I know about the woman. I know about her past. I know about her history. I know that Jesus taught her "They that worship the Father must worship in spirit and truth". I know it's not about whether you worship on this mountain or that mountain. I've read all of that. But I never took the time to realize it was near the plot of ground Jacob had given his son Joseph. It took me all the way back to remember that he called a man named Abram out of Ur of the Chaldeans. Abram was too old to have children. Plot twist. "You're about to have a baby". His wife's womb was as good as dead. Plot twist. God can bring forth a fruitful situation from a barren womb. Then there's the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It wasn't even supposed to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was supposed to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau, but plot twist. Just about the time you think you know what God is going to do… I love this story, because Jacob got blessed out of order.
Some of you are in a season of your life where you have told yourself the story is never going to be any different. You are like this woman who came out to the well in the heat of the day to avoid the attention and the accusations and the condemnation of other people. They have made up their minds about you, and they have limited you, and they have put you in a box. They've said, "Oh, you're just this. Oh, you're just that". But the barrier-breaking God who stepped through 41 generations, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not Esau… Esau was supposed to get the blessing, but God has a way of putting his right hand instead of his left hand. The right hand is the hand of blessing. The right hand is the hand of authority. It's called a plot twist.