I can think of 4 or more times… maybe as many as 7 times in my adult life when a surprise has broken open upon me and been utterly dumbfounding.
In this E-pistle, I want to use “surprise” to mean when something good but completely unexpected happens (as opposed to 1) either what we see coming, 2) what is the result either directly or indirectly of our or others efforts, or 3) what is unavoidably a disappointment, whether unforeseen or not).
For me, surprises have included falling in love, coming upon the freedoms and responsibilities of adulthood, unexpected pregnancies, discovering that I was a pastor, times when I have been suddenly loosed from various things that held me stuck, and gracious chances at new life that had nothing to do with my initiating…
Can you think of such “surprise” times or experiences in your life?
When you met someone new and it felt like you already knew her / him and she was sent just for you.
When you suddenly found out you had a skill, aptitude or interest that you never knew and cannot explain.
When you wandered as if by accident onto some path after feeling hopelessly lost.
When some struggle you had mostly failed at suddenly was no more struggle at all.
How? From where? Why now?
A great surprise. Even a serendipity, but maybe not just by chance…
I remember my colleague, Dr. Bobbi McKay, who did thousands of interviews with people to try and learn more about the variety of experiences of God in contemporary North American society, in and out of religious communities. Bobbi had a hunch that most people had more experiences of the Divine than they had language to articulate or even recognize. Her research led her to describe God as “Mystery” and “Presence.” And, in a sort of shorthand for all her conclusions, Bobbi ended up reminding us that God’s other name is always “surprise.”
What happens to those surprises in your life if you begin to wonder how God is associated or involved in them?
See you in church,