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Do you enjoy surprises?
I think there are some of us who very much like surprises. But a great many more of us appreciate our lives to be a bit more predictable. Those of us in the latter group like to have a sense of what to expect (at least broadly speaking) even if the surprise is a good thing.
Underneath that preference can sometimes be a need to feel like we have our little world a bit more under control. We anticipate things and then plan for them (both good and bad) and we hope that results in us being less rattled when the inevitable surprises do happen.
Another thing that influences that is what our personality type is. There are some who really prefer spontaneity and a “go with the flow” daily life. Others like schedules and thrive with them whether they are in our heads, our planners, or electronic devices. (There is a whole range in both types of personalities.) In our family we have a range of those who prefer schedules plus one who is the spontaneous type.
Now that our children are married with children of their own, it’s fun to see how that plays out in their adult lives and parenting and relational styles.
Expectations can definitely be challenging for any one of us because whatever the expectation may be, it is often not met or at least not met in the way we hope or prefer.
That results in some of us developing a pretty sour view of expectations and we refuse to hope or believe in a growing list of things and people.
Disappointed expectations for others result in adaptation to what happens as well as a growth in trust in the Lord and discernment of those who are trustworthy.
Have you considered how this plays out with the Lord?
One of the challenges I might suggest is to look carefully at what you see in whatever passages of the Bible you are currently reading. You will discover over and over again that what many of those we read about expected to happen turned out differently.
It seems we should be prepared to be surprised…not by God’s character, consistency, or constancy, but by how He chooses to display those as well as when He does so.
Maybe one of our problems is that our minds are finite and God’s is infinite! We cannot even imagine all the possibilities that He knows and creates.
It might also be true that we have a pesky problem of expecting the worst or at least not the best or what WE want.
Consider the examples you can think of in the Bible. Some are really big ones that no one can miss like the ram in the thicket that spared Abraham from offering Isaac on the altar or the Red Sea parting to allow the children of Israel to cross over walking on a dry seabed. Sarah and Hannah dealing with infertility and then God shows up and surprises them as well as their husbands with babies that have a major role in biblical history.
But surprises don’t end when we get to the New Testament. A virgin conceives and delivers the Messiah as a wee babe when anyone who had been looking for Him expected a king!
Reading through the Gospels we find one surprise after another. Jesus didn’t conform to what anyone expected and the religious of his day were not at all pleased. They lost control and a sense of power over people’s lives from this man from Nazareth.
The disciples were not those the elite would have chosen either. They were not highly educated and privileged people to serve at the side of the babe who would become a king. Over and over again Jesus confounded them even though these chosen 12 spent more time with Him than anyone else.
There were the big miracles like his resurrection and the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand of course, but what about the fish with a coin in its mouth to pay taxes or how Jesus hung out with Samaritans and women whose reputations were less than stellar?
We may well enjoy reading those stories now, but I wonder how any of us would have reacted if we had been there when it was happening. How would we react as believers today if we were placed in situations that really made no sense or shocked us?
If we look at these stories more carefully, we will discover that Jesus was not only God and a miracle worker but also someone who paid attention to details about the people with whom He had contact. He knew their needs (spoken and unspoken) and moved in response to them.
How important it is that we don’t forget He is still the same today. Do we notice those little surprises and attention to details or do we miss them entirely or chalk them up to coincidence?
If we do those things, we will miss the faith-building amazing love of Jesus reaching out to us in more ways than we realize. How He responds and when may not be our choice, but He doesn’t fail to see our needs. Needs are what He promised to fulfill. He made no promises about “wants.” One dictionary definition of need is “a physiological or psychological requirement for the well-being of an organism.” It’s essential in order to live. That reminder reduces our list of what we think we need or want considerably.
On my last visit with my oldest friend, I savored every moment. She was 93 and her health was now failing. I had known her about 45 years and until recent months, she had been amazingly healthy in body, mind, and spirit.
It was evident in what would be the last time together that her body and mind were not what they had been, but also clear that her spirit and connection with her faith were unwavering.
I asked her what she had sensed from the Lord during this season. After pausing briefly she replied, “I won’t be disappointed.”
Here near the end of her life when it could have been easy to wonder what would happen in transition from this life to the next, Jesus had assured her that all her hopes in Him would not be disappointed.
How sweet this detail for my precious friend!
Hope in Him!
He will undoubtedly surprise you, but He will not disappoint you. He sees the big picture that we cannot. He loves us beyond what we can imagine.