I walked into the dark restaurant, trading my prescription sunglasses for my regular glasses and saw my friend waving near a large table. I didn’t understand why she was near a big table for our planned small birthday dinner for three until I got closer. “SURPRISE!” Around the table were the dearest, loveliest gals you could ever meet and they were all there to celebrate me! I had no idea! I never saw it coming! Around that table were the girlfriends I can text, call or show up on their doorstep without notice (and have). They are in many ways my own self-chosen “small group” and the kinds of friends who have become sisters in many ways over the years. It was a carefully crafted plan, evidently, involving my high-school daughter and my husband and the ring leader of gal pals, my dearest Julie. It was executed beautifully! I was floored to be the guest of honor (and so glad I’d changed into my cute new top and sprayed a little fresh perfume)!
Surprises aren’t always wonderful, though. My youngest will enter Kindergarten this fall and I have been dreading his school physical. In my wisdom (haha), I decided it would be best to not mention the possibility, or more correctly, probability of shots. When we got there, I was pleasantly surprised that he was only due for two. He, however, was less than thrilled and just about fell apart, right there in the Star Wars exam room. It wasn’t my finest mommy moment. After promises of stickers and a trip to the toy aisle of our closest big-box store (ugh), he took his school shots like a champ and he walked out fully vaccinated from all that may come his way and sporting Daffy Duck and space band-aids.
As adults, sometimes we suddenly find ourselves in a place we had never imagined, often with the simple ring of a phone, a quick but heavy financial blunder, news from a doctor, or something far simpler. You may be saying to yourself, “This probably isn’t a big deal to someone else, but to me, it feels huge.” Girlfriends and Mommies, the very God to whom we give praise when it feels like we are standing on a mountain in a shower of blessings is the same when we’re we feel like we are under a giant mammography machine, getting more than our girls squished. During those moments when we turn tear-filled eyes to the sky and say, “Why, Lord?” He is still good. And those moments of complete surprise which seem to turn our world, or at least our hearts upside-down do not catch Him by surprise. The old saying goes something like “God is good ALL the time and ALL the time l, God is good.” He IS good. There is nothing about Him that could not be good and He loves us so very much. In the same way that parents sometimes must allow our children to go through something painful for their better good, imagine how much more that is so for our Heavenly Father. His love was so great that He gave the ultimate sacrifice in His son so that we could be with Him through eternity. He is not about to leave us hanging when day to day struggles, big or small land with a ker-plunk in our laps.
I kissed a few frogs before I met my prince and believe me when I say I felt every bump along that road. Many nights my mom stayed up until her eyes were crossed talking with me as I mourned the ending of what I hoped would one day be an ever-after. Was it necessary? In hindsight, it probably was. With every hurt and tear that was shed, my heart was becoming more ready for the incredible gift that was eventually my husband. At the time, it seemed senseless, but here we are, celebrating 17 years this week. I am so thankful for those moments of heartbreak, because God, creator of the whole universe met me there, held me in His loving hands and I learned to rely more in the midst of an unseen future on the mercy and grace found only in the hands of my all-knowing Father.
Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” If we love God, this promise is for US! Did your spirit need that reminder today? I know mine did. God is teaching me to bring Him the sacrifice of praise even in times when praise is my last thought. I know that during those low and dark times, He is loving me enough to work things for my greater good and His glory and conforming me more into the image of His son. And He is not caught by surprise.