A dear friend once told me, "Jesus always did the unexpected. He constantly surprised people."
People expected a moral coach. He ate with the impious.
People expected a leader of the religious establishment. He sparred with the Pharisees.
People expected a line between "good people" and "bad people." He said, "Love your enemies."
People expected an easy way of spiritual improvement. He said, "Deny yourself and follow me."
People expected a dynamic rock star. He did miracles and then told them to keep it hush-hush.
People expected tidy sermons. He spoke confounding parables.
People expected a triumphant general. He died by execution.
Jesus never did the expected. His words and actions were never cliche or conformist. His influence was not in the castle, cathedral, or capital. His domain was the margins and marketplaces.
As one who follows and worships Jesus, I have to ask, "Have I become too familiar with with the astounding Jesus? Has my own life become too expected, closed to God's surprises?"
A scripted life is easier because it's predictable. We prefer certainty and security. We like guarantees. We regress to the conventional. If everything goes according to plan, it's a success.
But then there's Jesus. Never pre-scripted, his Kingdom confronts us as a foreign enterprise. Why wouldn't it be? If he has come to redeem the world, wouldn't his redemption look alien from from the world he's come to restore?
Why wouldn't we expect an unexpected King?
Following Jesus Christ is anything but safe or predicable. But as I think about it, the greatest things in my life have been the unexpected. God revealed reality and truth when I wasn't looking for it, and when I didn't plan it. If left to my own devices, life would be a lesser joy, or even come to ruin.
So I say to myself:
Be open to the unexpected, astounding, and unforeseen.
Look for God's work beyond the limitations of your schemes and dreams.
Anticipate unplanned encounters and introductions.
Live expectantly, open to grace and miracles.
Release control. Make your plans, but then watch God bend, twist, or scrap them.
I've been praying, "THY Kingdom come, not mine. THY will be done, not mine."
My friend was right. "He always did the unexpected." And each day contains more of his astonishing work. Keep your eyes open.