Just over four years ago today, my daughter called me quite upset. She had received some unexpected news. She was pregnant again! Most people would be excited, except she already had her hands full with three boys; the youngest being under 2. Her husband had the procedure most men had, but apparently, God was not done with them just yet. When she went for her sonogram and saw the face of this newborn child that God had blessed her with! She was the perfect mom and soon became excited and started planning for this surprising adventure. Turns out this child was to be another boy. My daughter and son-in-law now have four very active little boys ranging in age from 4 (today) to 10.
As I was thinking about his birthday and what a surprise he was, I began to think about all the little-unexpected surprises God gives us. They are all around us; some we see and some we miss. Some we are disappointed at the surprise and then look back and see what a joy it was.
For instance, one of the surprises is a rainbow after the rain. I am always disappointed when it rains for days on end. If it’s not raining then it’s cloudy. There are times after a rain shower the sun comes out and we step outside to see a beautiful rainbow. I know it can be explained by the weatherman, but I think to think it is an unexpected surprise from God. God reminds us in Genesis 9:13, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”
I think about the surprise of forgiveness and his lack of memory. We mess up and hold on to it for what seems like forever, but once we confess it to God it’s gone. He has wiped the slate clean and doesn’t even remember we did it. It’s no longer in his memory. It may still be in ours, but in his mind, it’s gone. 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
There are times I can’t even love myself. For whatever reason, I get in a funk and think I am unlovable. Maybe it’s because I messed up or maybe it’s because I am lonely or for whatever reason, it just doesn’t matter. Those times God comes along and shares this secret with me, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.
One day I was in the hospital with another daughter in Indiana. She delivered her baby and was in stress. She had a seizure right before my eyes. Now I had not seen anyone have a seizure before and it scared me to death. As the doctors and nurses were working with her, I was out in the hall praying for peace. My husband was still in Texas and I was alone. A few seconds passed and I received a phone call from a dear friend in Indiana. She called me because God had placed it in her heart to call and ask if I was okay. When I told her no, she immediately went into prayer. By the time we finished I was calm and at peace. God gives us surprises through friends calling just when we need them. What a surprise this call was. I had not planned on calling anyone. I couldn’t even think, but God knew what I needed and surprised me. This isn’t the only time I have received a phone call that I wasn’t expecting and needed it.
Just recently I went on a fishing trip early in the morning. I wasn’t expecting anything special. What God surprised me with was more than I expected. The beautiful sunrise, the fellowship of my husband and the witness of God has given the guide was an unexpected surprise.
If we look at things from a different perspective we can see God surprises us all the time. I was not happy about coming to Texas and leaving family behind, but God surprised me and this has been one of the most exciting adventures I have been on.
Some surprises are not what we expected or wanted. Like the death of a child or a spouse. Those are unexpected surprises we can do without. In those times, we can find God sprinkling surprises around us all the time. It may be a friend who comes without asking and stays by our side doing those things we aren’t capable of. It may be the surprise of peace and calm for those first few days. I am always surprised by the amount of food that comes to our homes when a loved one has died. You don’t always think about cooking or fixing a meal. Then the door bell rings and you are surprised by all the food that shows up at your door. I am always surprised by all the kindness and love that God surrounds you with during those difficult times. They are not the surprises we like, but God makes sure we can get through those unexpected surprises.
Surprises are things that happen that you didn’t plan on. God’s grace is one of them. God offers us grace when we least expect it. God’s strength is given when we least expect it. God’s peace comes to us just when we think we can’t go on anymore.
When is the last time you’ve received an unexpected surprise? I know all of us have at one time or another. Can you see how God was involved in your surprise either by offering it or helping you get through it?
We have been blessed by Luke’s birth even though he was a surprise. He has been and is a handful; all boy – full of energy. He is never still. My son-in-law once joked if they had Luke first he would have been the last. God’s hand was in this little package and he has turned out to be nothing but a joy to all his little life has touched. God touches our lives with surprises. How we deal with them is what makes them a blessing.
I challenge you to journal the next surprise. What did God teach you through these unexpected surprises?
Dear God: I thank you for all the little ones that came unexpected and for their parents. May you bless each unexpected surprise. Give us grace when we least expect it, bring us a shower of love when we feel unloveable and bring us peace when life throws us those surprises that are not needed or wanted. Thank you for the surprise of a rainbow after the rain. May it remind us of the covenant you have with your people. Amen.