Each day holds a surprise.
But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.
There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved: It is God’s finger on man’s shoulder.
To find gratitude and generosity when you could reasonably find hurt and resentment will surprise you.
–Henry B. Eyring
Today’s surprise came to me from the Bible. As I was pondering and praying through this evening’s Central Goes topic of Surprise, the Scripture referenced in my daily devotional took me to a story filled with surprises.
I’m going to digress here for a moment to share something about how God speaks to me. I cannot tell you how many times I have opened a devotional book or the part of scripture I have been reading through to find that day’s reading directly applies to what is on my heart and my mind for that day. Now, it is not God saying, “Joanna, go to 21 Jones Street and tell Sam to drop on his knees in prayer.” More often, it pertains to situations where I am wrestling with how to love someone better, what to put first in my priorities, or how to interact with everyone I encounter that day. The point here is that when I am regularly reading God’s word, when I am regularly setting aside time to be with God, He speaks in a way that connects to my daily life. This is how I receive guidance from the Holy Spirit. Right there in the routine of being with God every day. It is one of the ways God regularly surprises me!
Take a look at this fascinating story in John 4:
Jesus…left Judea and returned to Galilee.
He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
“Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.
“I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.
Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”
Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him…
Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Jesus talked to a woman and a Samaritan–he broke all the cultural customs of the day that separated groups of people. I am particularly struck by this because of the number of cultures represented in my circles of friends. Just yesterday, a friend said to me as an explanation for something, “It is our culture.” I love to learn about cultures, but I also love that Jesus repeatedly steps above and beyond and over culture. And every time he did someone was surprised or shocked enough to start re-thinking who they were, what they did and who Jesus was.
More to Ponder:
- At the top of this post are three quotes. Now that you’ve read the John 4 passage, go back and read those quotes and see if you can explain how each of those quotes relates to John 4.
- If you want to challenge yourself even further, take the time to think of examples from your own life which may connect with each quote.
- What stands out to YOU from this passage?
- What questions does it raise?
- If we are to follow the example that Jesus left in the way he lived, what might God be calling you to do as a way to do what Jesus did in this story?
Please feel free to comment below.
Family Photo Credit: Sophie Brendle Photography