Unexpected Surprises (2018)

By Wendy Steger
Pastor, Connect

On April 3, 2018, school children and teachers were surprised and delighted to get a snow day in April. Others of us were equally surprised, and possibly less delighted, to receive eight inches of snow two days after Easter. April Fool’s Day had come and gone, but it seemed that Mother Nature still had a few tricks up her sleeve. Yes, life is full of unexpected surprises.

When we were expecting our first child, my husband and I wanted to be surprised. We decided not to learn whether this baby was a boy or a girl, even though, of course, modern technology could have given us this information with near certainty. Although I should have known better, I felt with 100% confidence that this baby was a dark haired girl. My side of the family has dark hair – all of us – so it was natural for me to picture my child also having dark hair. As for the baby girl part, I figured there was power in a mother’s intuition. I just knew. Well, God had a surprise for me, when, on March 28, 1999, I met my blond haired, blue-eyed baby boy. What a shock! The dark haired girl came along just two years later, and her blond sister three years after that. I am grateful that God gave me these children; all of them are delightful surprises in their own way.

Yes, God has many surprises in store for us. Some of them are beautiful, like a new baby boy. Some of them are unpleasant and challenging, like a job loss, a house fire that an SOTV family experienced recently, or an unexpected illness or death. They upset our lives, throw us off balance, and may even threaten to overwhelm us. But as we encounter surprise, both the good and the bad, we can remember the words of St. Paul in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” God does not intend us harm, but instead, God shows up. Even in our darkest times, God walks with us on the journey. God is always bringing light, new possibilities, and hope, so that we are never alone. And finally, we rejoice in the beautiful promise of eternal life that awaits. It is this promise that assures us that we can be fully present in the here and now, loving and serving others without fear. We are free to face all of the surprises in our lives with the sure and certain confidence that we belong to Christ, the one who was raised and who lives forever.

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