Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I wonder if you are the sort of person who likes surprises? Do you enjoy surprise parties, do you like receiving surprise Christmas or birthday presents when you don’t know what you’re getting?
If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like surprises, it’s probably because you like life to be under control, well-planned, everything timetabled to your satisfaction. And let’s face it, most of us are a bit like that because we like to be in control of what’s happening—if we’re honest.
You may remember Gomer Pyle, the popular TV character played by Jim Nabors back in the mid to late 1960s. He got his own TV show on American CBS and is still considered a legend today with many film, TV and singing accolades. Gomer Pyle was immensely popular. He was naive and awe-struck, and one of his favourite expressions was, “Surprise, surprise, surprise”. For him life was full of surprises.
Whether we like it or not, life is full of surprises. A woman once asked her husband, Do you like surprises? I’m sure he wondered what she had in mind, but he answered correctly, You have to like surprises, because life is full of them. How true is that.
Some surprises are good, and some are bad. Most of us don’t like bad surprises—like the poster I saw: “I try to take just one day at a time, but lately several days have attacked me at once”.
Surprises are the stuff of life, whether it’s an unanticipated diagnosis, a bouquet of roses, an unexpected guest, a car that pulls out in front of you, a freak storm or a phone call letting you know you’ve just won a fabulous prize in a drawing. Every day we face the possibility of being surprised. Life is full of surprises—you never know who will surprise you or how it will happen. Everyday when you wake up you could be confronted with a life-changing day. This is the reason you need to know how to handle life’s surprises. But there’s another angle to this: that God’s ways are often surprises, because his ways are not our ways.
Walking with God
In your life, always full of the unexpected, you can bank on God to:
- move in surprising ways as he fulfills his purposes and his sovereign will
- love you unconditionally
- hear and answer prayer
- have all the resources you need to live life triumphantly, no matter what
- do all he has promised in his Word
- be all he says he is.
We need to get in step with God. Walking with God in life’s journey makes a tremendous difference in how we experience and come out of life’s disappointments and wonderful surprises. Back in 1985 Father Gerard Hughes wrote a book called God of Surprises, and in it he says God breaks into the human heart and soul with new understanding. He says, “God has often surprised me, but he has never disappointed me”. And I agree—it’s absolutely true. God will never disappoint you.
We should make plans—counting on God to direct us. (Proverbs 16:9 – Living Bible)
Psalm 57:2 says, “I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me”. The writer of Proverbs says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps”. (Proverbs 16:9). That means God will overrule our plans if he wants to. His timing is perfect, and he never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. The Bible tells me very often that God delights in blessing his children with his goodness, faithfulness, and love. He remains faithful and will open doors for us we never saw coming, and lead us into the future.
So don’t be alarmed with what may happen. God’s surprises can happen anytime. They don’t happen every day, but when they do, you know it. I’m not talking of coincidences. It might be an answer to prayers from many years ago—but he has come to you. Ephesians 3:20 says, “…his power at work in us can do far more than we ask or imagine”.
I know who holds the future,
And I know who holds my hand;
With God things don’t just happen—
Everything by Him is planned. (Albert B. Smith)
PRAYER : Help me, dear Lord, to be open to your surprises. May I see the small ones so I might accept them with a grateful heart. I want to be open also to the big surprises, Amen.