Do you like surprises? I know . . . loaded question. Some surprises are good. And others, well, we would just as soon not be surprised by them at all.
As you leaf through this issue, you will find a number of surprises like these:
Earthquake! Now that is a surprise. God used it to deepen Anne Troy’s friendship with her neighbor, opening up spiritual dialog (p. 22 ). And the Coals were in for a surprise, learning how bold their Muslim friends were in sharing the gospel (p. 17).
Buzzz. Hmm, I wonder who could be at the door? What a pleasant surprise! Neighbors are bringing Ramadan gifts to the Jonas family (p. 28).
Some surprise visits, though, you could do without. How about waking up to the presence of a ghost who then harassed you for years (Inara p. 38)? Or being invited to an innocent celebration of children, including yours, only to learn just beforehand that a shaman—a spiritist—just showed up to lead the festivities? God has His own surprise in store (River p. 42).
The Nicholaides received a beautiful surprise when God turned a family tragedy into seeds of hope (p. 28). And early on during his project, John Holbrook was ready to give up because no one wanted to hear the message of salvation. Ten years later, John is surprised to learn the results of God’s work through him (p. 29).
And what may be surprises to some are expected blessings to others (Martinson p. 20).
We serve a God full of surprises. I am sure a talking donkey was not on Baalam’s list of expected encounters. And I do not think Mary and Joseph anticipated raising the Messiah. But even though God may be full of surprises, if we live for Him, we may rest in this assurance found in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (KJV). An expected end—a future and a hope.
With a God like this, that’s the least surprising of all.