One of the best things about the account of the resurrection in the Gospels is the various reactions of the disciples and others. Those reactions range from ecstatic fist pumping on the end to consternation and scheming on the other.
But no one shrugged. Because no one, not even Jesus’ disciples saw it coming.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”- Mark 16:6
God Is Surprising
The best thing about God is that he loves us.
The second best thing about God is that, loving us, he made a way through his Son, Jesus, to save us.
But somewhere down that list of wonderful things about God we come to the fact that he is surprising. It is delightful to have a surprising God, a God who “upsets the world’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:19.)” It is good to have a surprising God. Don't be surprised if God surprises you.
As we celebrate Easter again remind yourself of the benefits and responsibilities of following a surprising, confounding, upside-downing sort of Savior.
How to Respond to a Surprising God
1. Act surprised
God is surprising you for a reason. He wants to you to experience more of him, a fresh revelation of his nature, and his love for you. Resist the temptation to play it cool. If God goes to the trouble of blowing you away, have the decency to be visibly, demonstrably blown away. And, along the way, enjoy the ways that God surprises you.
2. Don’t give up on certainty
But wear your certainty like a winter coat, something you get the benefit of in the cold, but which you remove the moment you step into a warm foyer. Be really certain about what you’re certain of, right up to the point where God takes your certainty away. Be certain that people who get a diagnosis of terminal illness invariably die of that illness . . . right up to the point where God miraculously heals.
3. Know where the surprise won’t come from
While it’s true that he makes all things new, it’s also true that God himself never changes. He does not break faith, there is no sin in him, and his character is always, invariably, a matter of love.
4. Be God’s co-conspirator
Sometimes in my friendship with a non-believer I imagine that, having been given access to my friend’s life, I have been recruited to be God’s “inside man.” I find a window in the house of my friend’s life and make a point of leaving it unlatched that God might sneak in and surprise my friend someday by jumping out from behind his furniture. I hope that’s less creepy than it sounds.
The point is that, being grateful for the way in which God has surprised me, I want to make it possible for God to surprise my friends in the same way.
5. Add an asterisk to everything else
In humility, be aware that having a surprising God and being a human with limited insight means that the next surprise could come from just about any direction. And that surprise could mean a change in my politics or in my circumstances or in my heart. And while I can’t know ahead of time what shape that surprise will take, I can trust the God who’ll spring it on me.
6. Be the surprising servant of a surprising God
Let your neighbors and friends find you just as delightfully surprising as the God that you serve (1 Peter 4:4.) We are God’s prank on a world that he wants to save. Play your part with mischief and grace.
7. Know God is never surprised
While God often works in ways we find unconventional, remember he is never surprised. Adam's sin didn't surprise him, and Jesus was ready to die and rise on our behalf. He is never caught off guard, and he knows your yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Written by Joel Tom Tate
Furnace Brook Wesleyan Church Blog