Thursday, April 24, 2008

Every Day He Has a Fresh Surprise

If anyone reading this is planning a surprise party for a friend or relative, consider this advice: before you go through with it, make certain you know the guest of honor well enough to be sure he or she will welcome the surprise. The traditional surprise party has been described as a perfect means of catching someone physically and emotionally unprepared to celebrate, and yet unable to express any annoyance without sounding ungrateful and churlish. My own father kept his birthday secret for most of his life, to make sure he would never fall victim to such an attack.

Even those who claim to like surprises would rather not be surprised at inconvenient moments: the sudden invitation to dinner when we're ready to drop from an exhausting day; the potential client who rings the doorbell when we're half finished cleaning the fireplace. All of us want to maintain some degree of control over our lives.

That's one reason we resist serving a God Who reserves the right to surprise us at a moment's notice. Moses was living the relatively safe and comfortable life of a shepherd when God called him to drop everything and lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Joseph was about to settle down and get married when he learned his fiancee was pregnant with the Son of God. Paul had to put up with regular last-minute changes from the day God interrupted his trip to Damascus. It would be hard to find a Bible hero or historic saint who never was caught off guard by divine instruction (verbal or circumstantial)--and many of them cooperated only after considerable argument and foot-dragging.

So when we don't want to follow surprise orders from God, we're in good company. Still, if we truly believe that He knows best and has our interests at heart, it only makes sense to act promptly on His leadings.

Even when they surprise us before we have the chance to wash up from cleaning the fireplace.

In this sad world where all may seem uncertain,
Our God is ever constant, sure, and wise--
But do not think Him also neat and tidy,
For every day He has a fresh surprise.

Our Lord is no one we can take for granted,
Who hands out favors like some contest prize,
Or Who makes rich or poor those who "deserve it"--
But every day He has a fresh surprise.

His wisdom is beyond our comprehension;
His ways are often strange to mortal eyes:
We see the pieces; He sees the whole picture--
And every day He has a fresh surprise.

Do not complain your plans have come to nothing,
But count yourself as blessed; look to the skies
Where dwells the One Who works all things for goodness;
And let yourself rejoice in each surprise.

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