Unplanned Moments

Unplanned Moments

Author: Mark Fenstermacher
July 16, 2021

I was an hour early.

You read that right: I was an hour early. I had agreed to meet a friend at a local coffee shop at 2 in the afternoon, but I was an hour early. So I read. I jotted down some things on my “to do” list. And then I heard a voice.

One of the young adults in our congregation was standing next to the table, where I was sitting, and she said, “I was wondering if you would look up and notice me standing here.”

She is an extraordinary human being. Do you know those cards with glitter that, when opened, leave a trail of glitter all over your house for weeks? This young adult walks around and she leaves a trail of glitter behind her: the glitter of hope, the glitter of faith, and the glitter of courage. 

We had the best and longest conversation we have had in the year that I have been living and serving in Auburn. 

As we talked, and she told me about her life, I marveled inside that I would have missed this moment if I had come racing in just a minute before (or after!) my 2 o’clock appointment.


A lot of life is keeping your eyes open in the unplanned moments. God has a way of using those. I’m a list maker and a calendar keeper (both on paper and on my phone), but the truth is that God often shows up in the moments that aren’t all planned out. I’m not advocating living an unplanned, chaotic life. I’m not saying we should throw our calendars and watches away. However, I would just observe that some of the best and richest moments of life happen when we didn’t expect them.

When the Samaritan woman went out to the well, in the middle of the desert, John doesn’t tell us that she expected Jesus to be sitting there by himself in the heat of the day. 

When the tax collector climbed up in a tree, he had no idea that Jesus would glance up, see him, and invite himself to eat in the home of Zacchaeus. 

When a fierce storm drove a ship ashore on the island of Malta, the people there had no idea that they were about to hear an amazing story about a crucified and risen Messiah told by a survivor of the shipwreck. Paul stumbles ashore, helps tend to others, builds a fire, gets bitten by a snake, and then starts telling people about the Galilean who shows us the fullness of God’s grace and truth.

It’s not a bad idea to leave some “gaps” in our daily schedules. It’s not a bad idea to leave some “unplanned time” on our calendar. Because God has a way of showing up when we’re an hour early. Or stuck in traffic. Or kept inside the camper during a summer rainstorm. 

I’m glad I was early.

And I’m thankful I looked up.


Join us this Sunday for worship (in-person or online via YouTube) at 8:30 or 11 as we start our series of messages on the Book of Psalms. Pastor Nikki will be helping us get started as she leads us through Psalm 121. (I’d encourage you to bring a Bible to have with you in worship.)

I am so blessed to share this Jesus journey with you. 

In Christ and for Christ,
Pastor Mark


First United Methodist Church
1203 E. Seventh Street | Auburn, IN 46706
office@auburnumc.church | 260.925.0885