On the whole, I’m not that big on surprises. I like to have a plan – even though I’m perpetually behind schedule and scrambling to catch up. I always yearn to have a sense of the direction I’m traveling in, even though I realize the road might bend a bit along the way. If I have a plan, then I can feel in control.

And then God surprises me.

Sometimes, the surprises are small and delightful. On a day I’m struggling with the darkness, He places an angel in my path – a stranger with a warm smile, an unexpected call from a friend. On a day I’m questioning my worth, He provides an opportunity to reach out and help someone else, the surest way to be reminded of how much He loves and trusts me.

Sometimes, the surprises are huge and awe-inspiring. Answers to problems that seemed insurmountable, healing in relationships that seemed beyond fixing, and clarity in a moment of huge confusion come “out of nowhere” – meaning, truly, that they come from Him. And they arrive with breathtaking strength, convicting me with the sharp assurance that God loves me even in the moments I think I’m on my own. He walks with me even when I think I’m directing my path. He loves me even when I can’t love myself.

After all the years I’ve been blessed to be His child, none of this should surprise me. But it still does, because I let the clamor of the world drown out His certain, loving voice. Because I try to do things myself, when everything should be done with and for Him. Because His capacity for love and forgiveness is miraculous.

As we move forward in a perplexing and tumultuous world, let us remember that we are not alone, that we are meant to lean on God. Let us cherish His strength, and let us keep our hearts open to His beautiful surprises.

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10