Yesterday, I flew in to Charlotte, NC, to see my mom and surprise her for her birthday. How we kept that surprise quiet, I’ll never know–but I’m glad I did. To see the look on her face when I walked in made it all worthwhile. Not much can surprise us anymore.
What saddens me is that so many in our churches across this land expect God not to show up, and are so surprised when He does in a palpable way. Why? I know last Sunday at my church, it was so apparent that God descended (just like we always ask) that many of us did not want to leave. All the issues that we worried about up until that worship service dissipated in light of His presence. No, I’m not saying the problems disappeared–I’m saying that we were all reminded that God through Christ is bigger than our problems and that we can cast our cares on Him, because He cares for us (Psalm 55:22-23; 1 Peter 5:7).
Tchvidijian wrote a book called “Surprised by Grace,” and C.S. Lewis penned him classic, “Surprised by Joy.” The Christian life starts as a surprise that His grace could save and seal. The Christian life continues to surprise at how God shows up to show us our sin and show us His presence and care and discipline in the midst of our sin–in order (surprisingly) to make us more holy.
Surprises are good. And even when it’s a truth about God’s word and work that we know well, the implications and application of that work and word still surprise us.
I close with this. Our church participated in a Catch-Up Sunday last Sunday. Our cash flow was struggling, so our stewardship team felt that we needed to communicate this to the congregation, show them what the Word said about the gravity and gladness of giving, and then call for them to catch up their giving out of obedience. Their obedience would help us fulfill the Great Commission in our Jerusalem.
Our church responded in such a way that I was (you guessed it) surprised! Most church members and especially non-members get anxious when preachers talk about money. But God’s Word and Spirit moved to where our folks stepped up and responded as a people of God.
One day, I won’t be surprised at what God will do.
Praise be to His glorious name.