Does the Lord ever surprise you? Truly? Does He ever just open up heaven and amaze you with His goodness?
I’ve been walking with the Lord all my life. I was 11 years old when He knocked on my heart’s door and said, “Beloved, come to me.” As I’ve matured in my faith and fellowship, God’ provisions are all around me. I’ve learned to recognize His fingerprints as He works in the corners of my life.
Countless stories of answered prayer, provision, revelation & protection. By now, God’s faithfulness shouldn’t surprise me. His amazing finger prints and provision, should in no way surprise me. I really should hold within my heart a spirit of expectation. When hardship hits rather than bear down with prayer and petition wondering where it came from or why me, I really should just look up and laugh. Laugh in the face of adversity knowing that the worse it gets, the more my awesome God is going to show up. The more it hurts, the more God’s love covers. The more it rocks my world, the more the world will be rocked by God’s provision and faithfulness. The more I have to wait on the Lord, the larger my eagle’s wings become. The more zoe life of God within me.
(Insert Rich Mullins piano rift here and start singing along. “My God is an awesome God. He reigns from heave above….” For those who are too young to know this references, check out Awesome God here. Then ask someone older than you who Rich Mullins is. He’s someone you should know about.)
So why do I still have moments of doubt that there will be provision? Why do I doubt if God is near or that He has His hand on things? Why after all these years and all these provisions and all these moments of answered prayers and protections do I still cry out asking the Lord to show me His face or let me know He’s near?
He’s called us into Sabbath rest. He’s promised abundant life. The Joy of the Lord is our strength. I long to walk in that peaceful abundant life joy. He’s always near. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He’s not left us as orphans, but He’s put His very spirit in us!
Reading through Luke this morning, the Lord highlighted some things to me that brought me encouragement. A gentle loving Father, always.
Jesus was born into a time when God’s spirit had been silent for hundreds of years. Imagine having heard about but never experienced the “glory of God.” Then some lowly dirty shepherds were out in a field minding their own business & doing their daily do and bam. Glory and heaven’s song fills the skies. I wish I could have been there. What an amazing sight for earthly eyes that had been in darkness for so long.
A few months before this, a young Jewish girl was hanging out in her room. God’s glory. Boom. Angel comes and says, “You’re going to be the mother of God’s son.” Now, you would think that if an angel came to you, you would get it. A Divine encounter like that one would have you full of confidence and expectation. Nope.
8 days after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple per the custom of that day to be circumsized. This was a good old-fashioned baby dedication. Simeon, a righteous and devout man who was told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he saw the Messiah, was moved to go to the temple at the same time. While there he took the baby in his arms and started praising God speaking all kinds of prophetic goodness over the child. What was the parent’s response? Again, both Mary and Jospeh had been visited by angels at this point. Nothing should really surprise them. Yet, “the child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.”
And it doesn’t end there. 12 years later they headed to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. You remember the story. It’s the one where Jesus gets left behind and for 3 days Mary and Joseph search for them. They finally find him in the temple engaging with the religious leaders. Mary like all good mothers scolds him. “Why did you treat me like this!?” And Jesus replies that they should have known he would be about his father’s business.
What struck me about this story was that Jesus was in the temple at 12 years of age and “everyone who heard him was amazed at this understanding and his answers.” There’s a lot I could say here, but to stay on track, let’s keep moving. Then it says “his parents saw him, and they were astonished.”
Let’s pause here for moment. Astonished. Hum… an angel comes to you and says, “Hey, you are going to have a child conceived by the Holy Spirit.” She ends up pregnant immaculately. Wouldn’t that clue you in that something supernatural is going on here??
Then, there’s all that provision around a place to be born. Some noble visitors. Some more angelic encounters. Hum… when are you going to get a clue here Mary and Jospeh?
Then Simeon in the temple. A very very old man who was told he wasn’t going to die until he saw the Messiah dances around holding your new born baby and spouts off all kinds of amazing prophecies over your child. By now, you would think Mary would get it.
Nope.. not yet.
I’m a mom. I get it. We get buried in the daily “do’s” and sometimes it’s hard to think bigger than our list of things we need to get done. So I can see why Mary could still struggle with faith and acting in expectation.
She does it again when Jesus is 12. They should have just stood back in the temple with arms crossed in an attitude of pride at this point. Yep… that’s Jesus. God’s child in carnate that we have the privilege of raising on this planet. Yep… he’s going to take the sin’s of the world upon him and make it all great again. Yep… I’m not the least bit surprise that he’s so awesome.
Yet, they still marveled. They were amazed. They were surprised that God could be so awesome.
I sat at my table this morning smiling over this idea. Even after angelic visits Mary still didn’t get it. If Mary can fumble, I guess it’s okay that I do too from time to time. I long for the response of my soul to be one of trust, faith and complete surrender. There are still times when I should expect yet I marvel. I guess that’s something to say about God’s infinite presence.
The good news is that Mary did, in fact, eventually get it. Several years later, after raising God’s son for a few decades, she sat at a wedding reception table with Jesus in Canaan. The host ran out of wine. She sat in her chair and quietly smiled. She knew in her heart the answer was already given. I wonder how many women ran around in a panic trying to fix the problem? Trying to rationalize or blame. Mary sat peacefully knowing the solution to the problem of social awkwardness sat right next to her. Then she turned and she whispered into her son’s ear, “Make wine, son.”
It’s such a lesson to me when hardships come. When tragedy hits. When unexpected acts happen. I don’t have to run around trying to figure it out. I don’t have to rationalize, pass blame or figure things out. The solution to the problem lives inside me. From the Sabbath rest of our chair and the from the fullness of our hearts in expectation, we can look up to our Father (or down if you want since he’s living in your heart if you’re a Believer) and say, “Make wine Lord.”
I’m sure He will continue to surprise me. He is, after all, an infinite God with an infinite ability to do an infinite number of things. There’s just something beautiful to me about surprise that comes from expectation. (Rather than surprise that comes from doubt). We open up an atmosphere that leads Him to do exceedingly more for us when we meet Him with expectation.
So when hard times come, may the cry of my heart forever be,
“Make wine Lord!”
I am standing in absolute stillness, silent before the one I love,
waiting as long as it takes for him to rescue me.
Only God is my Savior, and he will not fail me.
For he alone is my safe place.
His wrap-around presence always protects me
as my champion defender.
There’s no risk of failure with God!
So why would I let worry paralyze me,
even when troubles multiply around me?
God’s glory is all around me!
His wrap-around presence is all I need,
for the Lord is my Savior, my hero, and my life-giving strength.
Psalm 62:5-7 (The Passion Translation)