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  • Writer's picturePatty Breen

The Unpredictability of God

When I was a little girl, I loved watching the crackle and color of a fire. Our family could have been around a campfire in the woods or relaxing in front of the fireplace at home - I just felt fascinated by it. I still can remember thinking to myself, “Wow, look at the ways the flames dance around.”

There is something unpredictable about the power of fire. You can’t know what will happen or where it might spread. While humans can try to contain or even stamp it out, there is still an element of fire that is outside our control.

With all of that in mind, I think there is so much similarity to the feast of Pentecost, which we celebrate today.


The story of the Apostles and the faithful women after the Resurrection and up till Pentecost was completely outside of their control. Hiding in fear for their lives while still trying to process the miraculous sightings of their Rabbi in a glorified body. Jesus is cooking up a fish fry morning breakfast, walking through locked doors, and asking Thomas to place his hands into the wounds from the Passion. Then, an eruption from Heaven - fire hovering above their heads, strong voices in different tongues - both of which led them out into the streets of Jerusalem with a new zeal and boldness. And it was this holy boldness that spread like wildfire and grew this early Jesus movement, The Way.

There is no way they could have possibly known what would have happened next - so much (everything in fact!) was outside of their control.

It was a complete night and day difference. To imagine the transformation that occurred for those women and men in the Upper Room - leaves me with so many questions and wonderings in my own heart.

Like the unpredictability of fire, God is also unpredictable.

We cannot know when he/she will move, act, or invite us into something new and unexpected. We cannot predict how situations will work out, trying to twist or control our wishes to come true or happen.

God is not a magic 8 ball or a vending machine spitting out Dorito’s and Diet Coke.

Sometimes the ways of God don’t make sense - they feel confusing, difficult, perhaps even unfair.

And yet, even in the unpredictability of God, there is peace.

We see that in the Gospel. Jesus comes into the midst of the confusion, the fear, the uncertainty and says, “I bring you my peace. My peace.”

There is peace in the unpredictability because Jesus said so. He isn’t a liar. His name carries his presence. The peace of Jesus can pierce any situation - a broken, hurting heart, locked doors, confusion, utter desolation and fear.

What if we collectively embraced the wild, unpredictability of God? That even there Jesus will always bring his peace.

He did it for those women and men in the Upper Room - and he continues to show up in our lives bringing his peace.

You, of comforters the best;

You, the soul’s most welcome guest;

Come, Holy Spirit.

-taken from the Pentecost sequence


When not working in healthcare or writing, you can find Patty getting stronger at CrossFit, reading good books, and loving on her godchildren, niece, and nephew. She loves deep conversations at the intersection of faith, culture and ministry and using the art of storytelling to connect to people's hearts. Follow her Instagram here.

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