There is not a small amount of instances in which people have done different then God had intended. God had created them for relationship with Him. He knew all of the variables of how things could play out, but He *chose not* to let Himself know what they would choose. People were created with greatness in mind – in the image of their Creator (Gen. 1:27). They had been given lofty tasks (Gen. 1:26-28). But with freedom there is great responsibility.
God took a risk – a relational risk. He let people choose. And the Bible is a giant testament to a story of what God hadn’t planned. The Bible does, however, reveal a character of consistency in God, and this, then, does not diminish from the effectiveness of the Bible in a encouraging testament of God’s greatness, and most biblically illuminated – His redemption.
While we identify that God took charge in creation after man fell, there were more then several events where God had to put up barriers for man, and several that “did not enter His mind…”(Jer. 7:31; 19:5; 32:35) The context here is that God had given them warnings directly, He had sent prophets, and they had still rejected. They were still sacrificing their sons and daughters in fire to the idols of Baal and Molek! God was so impressed, or even grieved for their lost of character and rationality, that He didn’t see it coming… By “didn’t see it coming” though, I mean to say, He didn’t expect them to take that many consistent wrong turns, and choose against the created order. It is just folly to commit your sons and daughters to the fire, especially since these were Jews who knew what God expected from them.
But on the flip side, just as we are capable of “surprising God”, God is capable of surprising us. He has plans in mind that are lofty, and were meant for us that, were we to stray off the intended path far enough, would find quite exemplary. But I think those things are just the beginning (John 14:12). Jesus certainly was a surprise Himself to the Jews, since the Messiah they were expecting was supposed “to proclaim freedom to prisoners… and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn…”. This was a Scripture that Jesus had read from while in the synagogue in Nazareth, but He didn’t get all the way through it. This was probably left out on purpose, because there were zealots that wanted to overthrow the Roman occupation, and have their well-to-do Jewish traditions once more. But God had bigger plans. It can look like God is hand-leading us into the determined picture that it was meant to go, but it must be remembered that God is working with a sin-sick world, a route He had never intended for us!
So His plans for world evangelism was to restore us to an awareness of Him – but He had always wanted so much more then mere awareness… He wants to reconcile us completely, so that there is no more sadness, sickness, death, pain, agony, anguish, sorrow, turmoil, or depravity. There were, I submit, not in the heart of God. They were unplanned, but there may come a time where we can surprise God not as man had once did with sacrificing their children, but in exalting Him in tremendous love. We can start by putting ourselves back into alignment with His original plan of redemption – but redemption is a recovery endeavor. It is the entrance. He has a WHOLE KINGDOM beyond that waiting to be explored in careful, meticulous detail, and manifold wonder. May we surprise God with our love!