Isn’t it fun when a surprise party is planned and the guest of honor walks into a room where everyone shouts, “Surprise!” If it really has been kept a surprise, that moment is really special. A couple of years ago, our children all showed up for my husband’s 80th birthday. It was such a fun surprise! Our family is spread out from Florida to South Carolina to Iowa to Kansas. So they don’t get together very often. Some surprises are not fun, but that one was great.
God has planned lots of surprises over the centuries. Just when we think we have things all figured out, He sends a surprise package. Like a baby, or a check in the mail, or a new job offer, or even a visit from an angel.
What a surprise it must have been for Mary when an angel suddenly appeared to tell her she would birth the Messiah! And when it happened, the shepherds were surprised to get the news in the middle of a routine night on the hillside near Bethlehem. People had been looking for the Promised One for centuries, but when He came in such a surprising way, most didn’t recognize Him. A King born in a stable? A humble upbringing in a despised town? A rabbi who mingled with sinners? A teacher who taught new concepts that seemed too radical for high-minded, hypocritical scholars to swallow. Even those who did believe that Jesus was the Son of God were surprised by His death and resurrection. Why?
It’s not that such things hadn’t been prophesied. But Jesus’ followers were caught off guard. Can that happen to us? There is coming a time when people who thought they were Jesus followers will be shocked. He will say, “I never knew you.” Here are Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:20-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ “
Now that’s a surprise I wouldn’t want to experience! But there are some good ones waiting for those of us who love the Lord with all of our hearts and walk in His ways. Only Heaven will reveal surprises so far beyond our imaginations that Jesus couldn’t really describe them all in earthly language. What a surprise party we will have when millions are gathered together from all over the globe to see what God has prepared for us! Are you living in anticipation of that day?
“Imagine” from the album “Singing On”