We think about surprises in terms of Christmas presents, birthday parties, and scary encounters. We love them because they shake us out of our normal habit of being. We are awakened from brooding introspection or deadening routine. It’s scary. And it’s fun.
But God? What does he have to do with surprise? Actually everything.
So many of the encounters with God in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament were surprises. Men and women are shocked out of their daily rut by a call, a conversation, or a sign. In fact, God is the big surprise. As fallen creatures, we have a tendency to forgot him or dismiss him. So when God intersects my own fallen state, I am often surprised. Here is what happened recently:
I was reading (again!) Lord of the Rings and drawn (again) into the plot. I was so engrossed that I forgot my problems, my responsibilities, even my sense of self. I was in the story! And then I suddenly stopped and pulled out, realizing what was happening. I had been pulled into another world and connected with it. It’s why I have loved books for so long, especially good stories. But I’ve know that before. That wasn’t the real surprise. What happened next was.
God has been dealing with me for some time about my inner disconnection from people, my inability to empathize. I have termed it emotional autism. I hide it well behind feigned attempts. But it’s there, like an immovable boulder, dragging me down. “How do I change this, Father?” I have uttered that on so many occasions. And a surprising answer came as I was reading.
I realized that my posture with stories is exactly the same posture that I can have with others. It is an attentive willingness to get outside of my world and inside of theirs, to feel what they feel, to listen to their story. The emotional mapping is all there with a story. It’s just seeing the possibility of transfer to relationships. It was an answer to my prayer that came in a second of revelation. And a second of surprise.
I think the more we walk with God, the more surprises we are in for. So watch out tomorrow!