My cousin says if she wrote a book about my life, she would call it God’s Pawn. “God just picks you up and puts you where He wants you to be,” she told me. It sounds very spiritual. But sometimes it’s not so much fun to be a pawn, moved around on a giant chessboard. My life often seems random. I never know where He’s going to send me next.
When God plopped me down in Germany these last three months to teach at a Bible school, it seemed like a random move. “Why Germany, Lord? I’ve spent the last several years in China, studying Mandarin and the Chinese culture. Why send me to Europe now?” I certainly felt like a pawn.
One cold Saturday a few weeks after I arrived in Germany, I was giving away free waffles and hot coffee in the neighborhood with the Bible school students. My German was limited to “Guten tag” and “Danke schön,” so all I could offer was a waffle and a smile to those who came by. Then two Asian ladies approached our table. Tentatively I asked them in Mandarin, “Ni men shi zhong guo ren?” Breaking into big smiles, they nodded. Yes, they were Chinese! The next time someone said something to me in German, I asked my new Chinese friends to translate for me – from German into Mandarin! I was amazed to see God’s hand at work.
I wonder if the disciple Philip felt like God’s pawn. An angel of the Lord told him, “Get up and go toward the south.” Philip didn’t know why he was going there or what would happen next. But he went out of obedience, and came upon an Ethiopian official, who was reading the book of Isaiah. God used Philip to explain that Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecies, and the Ethiopian believed and was baptized. Immediately after they came up out of the water, the Bible tells us, “the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away,” dropping him down in another city, where he continued to preach the good news (Acts 8:26-40).
God’s a master chess player, and each move is carefully planned. Even when my life seems random, I can trust that He knows what he’s doing. I just need to be available and ready to go where He asks me to – as God’s pawn.