One Word 2018- Early But Right on Time!

As I dropped my son off at school one morning last week, I was handed this note with a small candy cane attached. I read the note before pulling away from the curb. The words sweet surprises captured my thoughts. Sweet surprises. The words floated around in my heart like an autumn leaf dancing gently in the air before settling upon the earth.

I drove on to work for a day filled with meetings.  During our afternoon meeting, one of my coworkers, Alfred, prayed before we began our brainstorming session.  It was these words that once again danced like a leaf…”Lord, surprise us.”

Surprise us!

And, at that moment, it hit me.

Lord, is that my One Word for 2018?

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Later that evening I shared these words on Facebook:

I think I might already know what my One Word will be for 2018! Never shows up this early. Gonna let it marinate for awhile. 

And then the next morning, the title of this blog post caught my attention 
The Surprise Gift That Came From My Failure
It was written and shared by the same co-worker who had prayed those words before our meeting the previous afternoon: “Lord, surprise us.”

Here’s a excerpt from that post:

“Isn’t this just like our Father?  Constantly FOR US.

We’re beating ourselves up about how we’ve missed it again.  We’re expecting discipline or correction or something.  Something we know we probably deserve.  And instead He comes in and says again: “Hey, I AM FOR YOU. I am with you. You are precious to me, and here’s a surprise gift from Me!”

I’m not sure when I will ever figure this out… how personal He is, and how FOR ME He is. 

He constantly takes my lack and turns it around…  how He takes my missteps and re-routes them to His glory…  Amazing grace!”

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Surprise...here’s the official definitions:

to strike or occur to with a sudden feeling of wonder or astonishment, as through unexpected-ness 

to come upon or discover suddenly and unexpectedly

I love how my One Word showed up on the scene for this coming year. Out of the blue and unexpected, early…but right on time too!

Surprise showed up as a surprise!  Sometimes I just shake my head over the beauty of it all. God’s love is intimate and personal and perfectly crafted and tailored for us.  Well done, Lord. Well done!

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A surprise will often lead to us to our knees in worship. 

A surprise is unexpected.  Mary didn’t expect to be visited by an angel or to receive the news of being pregnant and carrying the HOPE of the world. Luke 1:26-38

Saul (now Paul) didn’t expect to hear the Lord’s voice while being blinded by a light on the road to Damascus. Acts 9:1-9

Peter didn’t expect so many fish (let alone any fish) when Jesus instructed him to cast the net one more time. Luke 5:1-11  (This just “happened” to be the topic of last week’s message at church.)

Surprises will also bring us to our feet in praise.

Like the lame beggar at the Beautiful Gate expecting to get one gift, but gets another gift instead, one that far exceeded anything he thought possible. Acts 3

Like the prodigal son and his joy-filled father. The son expected a punishment but the delighted father threw a huge party instead. Luke 15:11-32

Like the lady who arrived at the well on a routine, ordinary day. She arrived in search of water for her bucket never expecting to be filled up with a water that would never run dry. John 4

We could go on and on. Story after story of the surprising love that our Savior pours out on us!

“But me he caught—reached all the way
from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,
but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!” Psalm 18:16-19 Message

Lord, help us to have eyes to see the surprising ways in which you love on us!  It’s all around us. Open our eyes. Open our minds. Open our hearts.

The surprise of the underdog succeeding
The surprise of the weak made strong
The surprise of receiving acceptance rather than rejection
The surprise of beauty in the middle of a mess
The surprise of wholeness in the midst of brokenness

The Grinch, and the moment he realizes the true meaning of Christmas. He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming; it came just the same! 🙂

Us when we realize again that the tomb is still empty
the debt still paid
Love still came
Love still won.

Surprise us with Your greatness, Your goodness, Your grace.
Surprise us with Your comfort, Your presence and Your peace.
Surprise us with Your Redeeming Love

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