Yesterday we celebrated my daughter’s sixteenth birthday in an unusual way. As far as she knew, we had nothing planned, but when she got home from school I told her, “Get dressed up nice and be ready at four-thirty and don’t ask any questions.” A while later, her best friend picked her up, blindfolded her so she wouldn’t know where she was going, and took her out for a nice dinner. When they returned, Chelsey found that her other friends were here at the house for a sleepover. A pink streamer web stretched to every corner of the kitchen and sixteen candles glowed on the table. I showed her the pile of junk food I’d purchased for the occasion and the stack of movies I’d rented, which included Sixteen Candles (what kind of a mother am I if I don’t make her suffer through an Eighties movie I watched at sixteen?). The look on her face was priceless.
Learning to surprise the reader is something I’ve been working on. We all enjoy stories that aren’t predictable—ones that make us say, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.” Or even if we suspect the outcome ahead of time, it’s more satisfying if we wander through unexpected paths to reach the end. Crafting a story that keeps the reader guessing isn’t easy, but in the end it’s worth it. Seeing a reader take delight in the twists and turns of a story I wrote is like seeing the shocked, happy face of my daughter upon entering a candle-lit room where friends yell, “Happy Birthday.”
Our Heavenly Father likes to surprise His children as well. He doesn’t always do things how or when we expect. The problem is we don’t always like to be surprised. We know what we want and we put in our orders. Lord, I’d like a contract please. Or an agent. Or a good review. We spell it out carefully so He won’t be confused, telling Him when, where and how. If what we ordered doesn’t show up on time, in the way we wanted, we might get upset with our Father for not delivering.
We need to remember that God’s plan for our lives is perfect. If we can trust Him, we can look at the future as an adventure, full of wonderful surprises. Perhaps God will take us in a direction we hadn’t thought of. Maybe the book we’re presently working on isn’t “the one.” Or maybe there are things we need to learn on the way. Just when we least expect it, something will happen, something we didn’t expect, surrounded with divine balloons and streamers. It might not even be the thing we asked for, but we’ll find that it’s even better. And we’ll know without question it’s a gift from our heavenly Father.
When we read something by an author who has proven him or herself time and again, we don’t expect to be disappointed. How much more should we anticipate a satisfying story from the Author of our lives?
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.