I love surprises. In fact, one of the things I love about my husband is his enthusiasm for staging a good surprise. But lately I’ve been contemplating the idea that maybe there are some surprises that I should be “outgrowing.”
How does the concept of surprise figure into growing spiritual maturity? Often I am astounded at the grace of God, mercifully protecting, teaching and blessing me beyond my wildest expectations. I could, in fact, say that His grace comes by complete surprise. But is that a biblical view? Should I find myself astounded when I see God mercifully providing, from divinely orchestrating the circumstances of my son’s birth to blessing us with the gift of an abundant supply of baby clothes to outfit his first year of life?
My God does not work in ways that are predictable. I can’t expect that He will always act in the same way, or that He will always do things the way I want them done. But so often, I find myself being, I think, far too surprised by His provision. Hasn’t He said He will supply all our needs? (Phil 4:19) Isn’t He our shield and protector? (Ps. 18:2)
Blindsided by Grace. The phrase came to me one day, not too long ago, as I contemplated the mercies of my God, thinking how often I am astonished to see how He works. As I mulled over the idea (it has such a holy ring to it, don’t you think?), I began to wonder if being able to be caught off guard by the mercies of God is really what He is calling us to. Does that fit with the words of the Psalmist, who says:
“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.” (Ps. 130:5-6)
If I am waiting on the Lord like a watchman, I will undoubtedly still be surprised at the ways in which the everlasting, unchanging, infinite God chooses to work. After all, He, to borrow from C.S. Lewis’ vivid illustration, is “not a tame” God, and as His child I look forward to an eternity of surprises. But If I am waiting on Him, expectantly watching for Him to work, I don’t think that I will be completely blindsided by the fact that He is working!
So that is my challenge to myself, in a life fraught with uncertainty, and constant temptation to live in fear: Wait on the Lord. I desire now to be living on the edge of my seat, eagerly, expectantly, breathlessly waiting and watching – what will my God think of next? I have to think that this posture of watching will, by the working of His Spirit, help me to recognize when God’s grace takes shape in ways I do not expect. The presence of pain, sorrow, and difficulty don’t indicate His absence, but perhaps will call for an even more intense need to be aware of His presence.
My prayer is that I will be so aware and watchful of God working, that the very fact that He surprises me will be a surprise in and of itself!
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