I shall begin this Back Page with a statement dripping in sarcasm, in case it’s not obvious. 

I had a wonderful start to the week. From the high of walking in the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (among others), I spent my first hours back in the saddle in the dentist’s chair. And when I finally got back to the church office, my speech was slurred and I sounded as if I’d had a stroke. I hid in my office for a couple of hours. Then I went home.

Pain did not prompt the unscheduled visit, but some pressure and a chipped crown sent me to that chair. Oh, that chair. Now, my dentist is as nice as he can be. I like him, just not what he does to me. We don’t get to schedule only pleasant things on our calendars, do we? Sometimes the unpleasant ones have their way of working into the appointment book whether we like them or not. And after last Tuesday, I’m still not done at the dentist yet, but we won’t talk about that.

When I was in Israel we had some surprise appointments too. Like a drenching shower in Nazareth. A fall in Tiberius. A hamburger in Arad (with fries and a drink it was $17). A cooling cloud cover on Masada.Another cloud burst in Pella (Jordan). An amazing Palestinian meal in Samaria, with soup that most called the best they’d ever had in life. Some surprises are good and we like those; others are not so good and we don’t like those.

As we walk with God we need to learn to handle both kinds of surprises with grace and faith. We can’t gloat about the good ones nor stew about the bad ones. How well do you handle surprises? Sometimes I handle them quite well, thank you. Other times, not so much. Isn’t it true that we often question the sovereignty of God when life throws us a curveball? We tend to go straight to questioning His goodness or His faithfulness.

It is in that moment that we must ask ourselves some honest questions. What do we really want out of life?  What do we really want from God?  How much have our dreams been personal, earthly, physical, or consumed only with life here on earth?  Are we willing to let God bring into our life what He considers best?  Or is He just some divine waiter, ready to deliver only whatever we order from the menu?

We serve a God who doesn’t always provide us a simple life or a clear pathway.  God is not messing with you, but no matter what comes your way, He is exercising His power to make you more like Jesus.

So, the next time God surprises you, don’t doubt His goodness, faithfulness, and love. No, lift your hands to the heavens and celebrate. You are being rescued. You are being loved. You are being delivered. You are being transformed. And be thankful that since nothing can separate you from His love, there are more gracious surprises to come!