Why We Need Surprises

I don’t like surprises.

Nothing surprises me anymore.

Don’t be surprised if…

Many times when we hear the word, “surprise,” negativity accompanies the idea. With computers in our pockets and information at our fingertips, surprise is something we can easily push away. Even when the news is good, such as a couple expecting a baby deciding not to learn the gender until the baby arrives, someone will say, “Why wait? Why do you want to be surprised?” Surprises can create stress because they throw curveballs at our plans. They may require us to keep secrets, such as planning a surprise party for a friend.

Whether we like or dislike surprise, followers of Jesus Christ must face this reality: the God we serve is full of surprises.

He came as a baby, not a revolutionary king. He died not in royalty but on a criminal’s tree. He did not call down fire from heaven on his enemies. Instead, he said, “Father, forgive them.” The Spirit he promised did not present seven easy steps for church success. Instead, he blew down the door with tongues of fire.

Earlier this month, one of my favorite bands, Mumford & Sons, released their fourth studio album, Delta. In a day when we can preview every song on every album digitally before purchasing it, I did something I haven’t in a long time. I purchased the album without listening to a single song ahead of time. I decided to be surprised.

The album released on a Friday, which I often observe as my weekly sabbath. I had plans to meet a friend for lunch in another town. I put my phone in “airplane mode” so that its only function would be for music. I had no lyrics in front of me. No song titles. No critics’ reviews. Simply the music coming through the speakers in an order carefully selected by the creators.

I was surprised over and over again simply because I did not know what to expect.

When the last song had played, I replayed it. Once again, I was surprised by different things than the first time. I played it a third time on the way home. Again, different surprises.

We need surprises because they wake us up to mystery.

We need surprises because they expose us to new forms of beauty.

We need surprises because they lead us to an order carefully selected by our Creator.

On the seventh day, when God rested, imagine the vast array of surprises that surrounded the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden. The sabbath was a day to enjoy and delight in the donkey’s hooves and the canary’s voice and the pine tree’s fragrance. The sabbath was a day to pay attention to God in the present moment—to be open to surprise.

On Sunday we enter the season of Advent, when God fulfilled his greatest promise in the most surprising of ways. Let us not become so consumed by the ordering and organizing of the season that we are not open to the best of God’s surprises. Let’s take time to rest with him, to be with him, and to watch for him.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian

Here is one song from the album, Delta. I invite you to listen to it without lyrics, without a Google search, without a preconceived idea. Simply listen. It doesn’t matter or like or dislike it. Just take time to be surprised.