My wife surprised me with a whirlwind trip to New York at Christmas. Seeing the Big Apple during the holidays was on my bucket list, so I soaked in everything from the sparkling Rockefeller Center tree to the Rockettes holiday show.
It was a grand trip made even grander by our return flight. For some reason that still remains a mystery, we were upgraded to first class. I had flown in the front only one time before, when a ticket agent I knew slipped me in because there were a few empty seats.
Talk about high living! Hot hand-towels, a blanket that was actually bigger than a handkerchief, food that didn’t involve pretzels or peanuts. But the best part, by far, is that I was actually able to stretch out my long legs. I kept wondering if a flight attendant would stroll up and say, “Mr. and Mrs. Winter, we made a mistake. You belong on the back row in coach, next to the lavatory.”
Well, it’s not like I haven’t been there before.
Surprises are a part of life. Some are good, others not-so-good. A lot of people despise surprises, which makes me wonder if they miss what God has in store. After all, God is the God of surprises.
God surprised Abraham and Sarah with a child (Gen 18:10-15) and Moses with a bush all aflame (Ex 3:1-6). He surprised Samuel with a voice in the night (I Sam 3:1-10), Elijah with a whisper (I Kings 19:11-13) and Isaiah with a vision (Isa 6:1-5).
In the fullness of time, God surprised a virgin girl with an angelic announcement (Lk 1:26-38) and the arrival of splendorous magi at her door (Matt 2:9-12). At 12, the boy born to Mary surprised religious scholars with his deep wisdom (Lk 2:46-47). When he grew into manhood, He surprised His cousin by submitting to baptism (Matt 3:13-17), a nervous wedding planner by turning water into wine (Jn 2:1-11), His own disciples by kneeling at their grimy feet with basin and towel (Jn 13:5-17). He surprised those closest to Him by dying on a cross instead of wielding a sword, and He reserved His greatest surprise when He vacated His own tomb, passing through His graveclothes and leaving them neatly on the burial shelf.
I don’t know if our first-class upgrade was a surprise from God. And not all surprises that do come from God will we initially see as good (remember that Mary was deeply troubled when Gabriel came a-calling). But I do know this: we can train our spiritual senses to view divine bombshells as invitations instead of intrusions. Whatever God brings our way is an opportunity to assess, recalibrate, mature, take action.
So open those surprises from God. In time, they may be better than you think.