Vol. 19 No. 40 | October 8, 2017
I am writing this on an airplane headed to New York City on my way to Brooklyn. My wife had planned to make this trip to celebrate our oldest granddaughter’s sixth birthday. I had not planned to join her until a week ago when my schedule freed up last minute. We called our son to tell him but asked him not to tell the ladies (my daughter-in-law and two granddaughters). Surprise!
I have made similar trips through the years. I once surprised my daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter, and wife by walking into their church in Texas just as worship began and asking, “Excuse me. May I sit here?” I did a similar thing to my wife on Labor Day weekend on another visit to Texas. Surprise!
I have also been the beneficiary of a few good surprises myself. One Father’s Day, my son showed up at church to surprise me, and another time, my daughter showed up on Mother’s Day. On my 40th birthday, my wife went all out by planning a big celebration which included videos, letters, cards and a “Hats Off to Tom Salute.” I did get a little suspicious on that one, however. For months leading up to my birthday, every time a certain friend called, my wife would take the phone into the bathroom. That was pre-cell phones, so that meant stretching the phone from the kitchen into the bathroom.
I love a good surprise, and I know someone else who likes them, too. His name is Jesus.
There are countless occasions when Jesus surprised both His disciples and His enemies, beginning with His decision to leave His Father in heaven and come to earth to lead us to salvation. He surprised those who followed him and those who opposed him by healing the sick on the Sabbath; by turning a few fish and pieces of bread into a meal that fed thousands; by showing compassion and offering forgiveness to a woman who was caught in the act of adultery; by spending time with members of the community considered outcasts or deviants; and by changing water into wine (what was said to be an exquisite wine at that!).
He surprised His family by describing the Kingdom as more important than his father, mother, brothers, and sisters. And He surprised His disciples by choosing passive resistance when attacked and asking them to do the same. He surprised the world when He selected ordinary and seemingly unsavory people to join Him in building a new kind of Kingdom, describing his purpose as serving instead of being served.
He continues to surprise us by the fact that He was willing to suffer and die on the cross as a way to provide forgiveness and salvation for all of us. And then there was the ultimate surprise, when He came back from the dead, rolling away the stone that covered the entrance to His tomb and proving us proof that he had in fact, risen from the dead.
Our God loves a good surprise. The surprises I have had a part in planning and the times I have been surprised pale in comparison to God’s surprises. And although I try to imagine it, I am pretty sure that what we’ll experience when our time here has ended will be the ultimate surprise. Perhaps the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit will be greeting us with open arms, a big smile on their faces, shouting, “Surprise!
When was the last time you were really surprised? When was the last time you surprised someone? I hope you get the opportunity to surprise someone this week. And I hope you will allow yourself to be surprised by the One who started this whole business of surprising. Maybe it will be an awe-inspiring sunset, maybe it will be something profound you read in His Word. Even if you’ve read it before, maybe this time you will be surprised by the beauty and relevance His words have in your life.
God loves to surprise, so don’t be surprised when surprises you.
A Norvell Note © Copyright 2017 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved