The God who Surprises

When I was five years old, I was given my first Bible. It was a King James version with tiny print and a surplus of thee’s and thou’s. However, it did have about a dozen illustrations which depicted dramatic biblical scenes. There was Noah’s ark tossing precariously on massive waves and Samson straining between two pillars, muscling them in half, causing the temple walls to fall on everyone. There was David, the young shepherd, hurling his one stone at Goliath’s forehead, rendering him stunned and stumbling. And then there was Jesus on the cross, his ribs bowed and contorted, a bloodied spear wound in his side.

It was a lot for a preschooler to take in.

In response, I remember exactly what I did next with this treasured Bible. I took a red, chunky Crayola crayon and I scrawled on its tissue thin pages the one word I knew how to write. Paradoxically, this word was “BOO”. One wonders what prompted me to do this. I just recall feeling quite proud of myself. Was it a prayer? Was it code for awesome? Or was it a tribute to the God who would surprise me at every turn during the subsequent six decades – during which I learned to spell a few more words.

Walking out of a Florida chapel, having just spread our mother’s ashes, a majestic egret swooped down and perched on her car, surprising our family with awe and wonder. BOO.

When quaking in fear over an impending speech before a local Rotary Club, my college speech teacher, whom I had not seen in thirty years, just happened to show up at the podium. BOO.

As new parents facing a diabetes diagnosis, measuring meals and loading syringes, pricking small fingers to draw blood, amazed at our four year old’s bravery – God gave us what we needed each and every day. BOO.

Sitting in a pediatric waiting room, the sun rising over Lake Michigan, we prayed and pleaded, as two babies came into the world, impossibly small, but alive. These babies, now almost three, are very busy. spreading joy and giggles in our family and beyond. BOO.

When we open our eyes to God’s presence, we see His surprising nature in a sunrise, a robin’s nest, the smell of freshly cut grass, the laughter of a good friend.

If we pause and listen, we may just hear God whispering in our ear, “BOO”.

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