Monday, July 25, 2011
"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:5b-7
Have you ever been really surprised? The kind of surprise where your heart leaps anxiously out of your chest and you can feel your breathing quicken? Surprises like these fall into categories for me, good and bad. Birthday parties, good...heart attacks, bad...divorce and infidelity, bad...a financial windfall, good...a promotion, good...death, bad for those of us left; good for those going to be with Jesus. This post today is a surprise to me. I had a whole post already prepared with scriptural reference and a cute story to accompany, however God surprised me and gently led my typing fingers in another direction. I will save the other post for another day.
This year, our family planned to have a "kid party" for our five year old daughter. She had never had a kid party before and her older sister has enjoyed many. When we shared our thoughts with our older daughter, she met our plan with eager anticipation and began making her own contributions to her sister's celebration. We were so impressed with her desire to bless her little sister that we considered having a smaller scale friend gathering for her also, even though it "was not her year". Their birthdays being very close together, we try to be creative about scheduling events for them, especially during the very busy, end-of-school year reverie. So, my husband and I openly planned our younger child's party, but quietly, in the background, planned a surprise for the elder of the two. The day of her big surprise came, and do you know what? This mama was surprised with a sick child, 102 degree temperature and a strep throat! At least she did not know what she was missing! Phone calls to the parents, rescheduling and voila, her surprise was back on...a few weeks later.
The big day came again, things went completely as planned and as her friends jumped out and embraced her in this huge circle of love, our daughter, shocked and confused just stood there, slightly shaking and no real ability to show any reaction. She was truly surprised, and she panicked. What we thought was a great surprise really scared her nine year old system and left her rather numb until after the event had ended. She asked us never to surprise her like that again. Our child was unnerved by the excitement and did not see the value in the surprise factor. Our best intentions played no role in the outcome, however when asked later what she thought, our elder daughter admitted that she was amazed and overwhelmed that we would all strive to surprise her. Despite her dislike for the surprise of it, she was able to grasp the tender love poured out on her in friendship and fellowship.
We got an even bigger surprise when we arrived home and tried to view the video of the big moment. My husband had mistakenly hit the wrong button and there was no footage of what we anticipated at all. Surprise!
In our lives we are forced to deal with surprises all the time. We pray one way and God answers another or we anticipate our plans having priority and then God asks us to do something different. We face these surprises with a gift, though; the assurance that God has no surprises. There is nothing that happens that surprises God, nothing.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Just as He knows the grains of sand on the earth and the number of hairs upon our heads, our God knows the plans for our life before we ever opened our eyes or took our first steps. Jeremiah assures us that the Lord wants us to have hope and a grand future in Him.
When surprises litter our path, whether good or bad, it is comforting and reassuring to know that HE has it figured out. We may not know in which way to proceed but He has and will number our steps in accordance to His will. Our job is to listen to Him, follow Him and heed His voice. We seek Him when we diligently read His word, pray and remain still. We can trust Him. It is as simple as that....four words...we can trust Him. No surprise is too big, He knows them all and desperately wants us to trust His heart and His desire to prosper us and give us hope.
Have you ever been really surprised? How did God use that to bless you, change you, prosper you and give you hope? I challenge you today to remember a surprise that God used to show you His plan for His purpose.