Friday, September 19, 2008
I've been thinking a lot lately about surprise. Seems these days that new and unexpected things happen too often for the term to fit. When surprise becomes the norm, perhaps the norm becomes the surprise. For instance, I was more surprised by the fact that I got to enjoy a relaxing day of football watching and general laziness last Saturday than I was when my son developed a finger infection that looked like what I would think leprosy might look like. Saturdays like the one I described used to be the norm. Grotesque finger infections used to be surprising.
This ironic twist in the way I view surprise is not unique to me. We process change at such a phenominal pace that surprise is more defined by simplicity than complexity. We are surprised when things are quiet in our audio barrage. We are surprised when the pace of life is manageable rather than overwhelming. We are shocked by the regular and at home with the fantastic.
We found out the other day that our fifth child will be a boy. When we tell people about it they are surprised. They're not surprised by the fact that we're having a boy; they're surprised that we're having a fifth child. They look at us like we've grown a third eye. They say things like "You do know what causes that, don't you?" Uhm, yeah, we do know what causes "that" (although we're somewhat surprised when time permits such activity).
Isn't it funny that we've come to a place in society where sexual intimacy between husband and wife that results in conception and child birth is surprising? Isn't that the natural outpouring of this sort of union? So we've come to a place where what is natural and common sense is surprising. Interesting, don't you think?
All of this leads me to this thought: How does God surprise us at this particular place in time? How do we (the church) surprise others? God used surprise throughout Scripture. Abraham faced the surprising (and terrifying) murder of his own child. David was the kind of surprise pick for King that would have made the Sarah Palin VP nomination look humdrum. Paul was shocked full circle on the road to Damascus. Jesus' surprise birth, surprise death and surprise resurrection were, well, surprising. So what is God up to now?
Perhaps He's standing behind the tree you're about to walk up on with a noise maker and a bag of confetti, just waiting to jump out and yell "Surprise!!" Kind of ridiculous, right? Of course He's not behind a tree with confetti, but He might be in the next cubicle with the guy who's marriage is falling apart because of a porn addiction. He might be with your daughter's teacher who's secretly struggling with insecurity because of her experience as an abused child. He might be in the coffee shop with the college kid who's so unsure of his future that he's thinking of ending his own life. After all, it's not surprising that people are dealing with painful lives. What's most surprising is that God's people aren't there for them. Not sure He'd have gone through such trouble surprising us if He'd have known how unsurprising we'd be.
Where can we look today to be surprised by God? What can we do today to be God's surprise?