Being Surprised by Christ

Being Surprised by Christ

Some people hate surprise parties. There are those who are uncomfortable with a last-minute vacation or even an unexpected travel upgrade. If it wasn’t part of the plan, it’s a cause for consternation.

There is a temptation to view these folks as curmudgeonly — sticks in the mud, obsessed with predictability. But I think if we’re being honest, there’s a little bit of the surprise-averse in all of us.

Deep within the very heart of the element of surprise is a kernel of shock. And shock, in the moment, can feel similar to trauma. If we reflect on the most traumatic occurrences of our lives — a loss, an accident, a calamity — it is likely that we will say this: “It was the shock more than anything that got to me.” Grief or fear, those feelings were overwhelming as well, but they came later. In the first moment, all we knew was we were going about our lives on one path until we were thrust on a different one and then the whole future changed.

This is the natural rhythm of our life here on earth. We never know what is coming — which is to say, in a beautiful way, we always know what is coming. More importantly, we know Who is coming.

Like the early riser who sets the “pre-alarm” (the one on which he knows he’s going to hit snooze just to take the edge off the disappointment of waking up), we are always being given a heads-up in Scripture. From the earliest prophecies of the Messiah to Jesus’ reminders in the Gospel to the very last words of Revelations, God has communicated to His stewards: You know the time. The time is now. We are called to constant vigilance, perpetual renewal, steadfast accountability.

In the end, the coming of Christ may be the only event in history that was a surprise, but not a shock — and so it will only be beautiful, even for those who hate surprise parties.