Martha’s booklet, Surprised by God, begins with the following observation:
“We like to put God in a box. We have the propensity to confine God to our idea.
Do you live shocked by God? Stunned by what He says to you, amazed by what He asks of you, struck by what He does and bowled over by the scriptures? If we are in touch with the real God, that continuous shock should be normal. He is amazing! He is shocking.
What He does and who He is, is knowable and unknowable at the same time—
I want more of this surprising God, One that we are ever discovering, Who can never really be anticipated and Who is unpredictable. The problem is: are we open to being surprised?”
That last question is one that comes up regularly for me. Am I open to being surprised by God? I would love to respond with an unequivocal “Yes!” But that’s not really true. I’m open to being surprised in certain ways, sure, yet a wide-open, no holds barred, Jehovah-initiated shock-and-awe surprise? Not so much. I tend to assume the crash position.
For who has known the mind of the Lord and who has understood His thoughts, or who has [ever] been His counselor?
Romans 11:34 AMP
That’s Paul asking the same question as Martha, while also giving human pride an atomic wedgie. I want to know God, and He wants to be known by me, but “as the heavens are higher than the earth,” so are God’s ways and thoughts higher than mine (Is. 55:8-9). That’s a daunting thought, no? But on the other hand, my being surprised by God should be downright normal! With the massive chasm between His thoughts and ways and mine, the odds that I will successfully predict “what Jesus would do” using logic or reason or my own intellectual interpretation of the scriptures are astronomical. I mean, what are the odds that a sheep will successfully read my mind or predict my behavior in any given situation? And the gap between the human mind and that of a sheep is considerably less than that between humanity and the Creator of All that ever has been and will be.
I only wrestle with this God-gap in my flesh. In the Spirit, I am content to know nothing until He tells me. It’s just wonderful! But put me in a crisis or a circumstance well outside my comfort zone, and my temptation is to control. Suddenly waiting for God isn’t a good option – “There’s no time!” Getting quiet so that I can listen also isn’t a good option – “Just think it through and go with the most reasonable response!” I doubt it will come as a surprise to our regular readers to learn that I’m not great in a crisis. Ha! But that’s not all bad. The more thoroughly I am His in my small, daily life, the more I will be His when the crisis comes. If I am weak and useless in a crisis, it will be all the more glorious for Him to shine out and eclipse that weakness with His complete ability.
Every day is training for the crisis. If I will obey in the little things, I’m trusted with bigger. If I surrender to the will of God for the seemingly mundane things in my life – food, sleep, work, clothes, car, dogs, duties – then I become trained to hear God’s voice. My unbelief is exposed and routed. More and more I meet Him, hear Him, see Him at work in my life and moving on my heart. I learn to live loved – in the fullness of what that really means – and I learn to love, too. But most importantly, I begin to know God, and so I slowly become accustomed to being surprised that He is always so different than I think He is.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!
Romans 11:33 AMP