A Perfect Prophecy: you WILL be surprised
I imagine that if the Bible was marketed as a children’s book, you might find it titled “The Great Big Book of Giant Gargantuous Surprises”, nestling on the shelf between Roald Dahl’s “James and the Giant Peach” and Lemony Snicket's “A Series of Unfortunate Events”.
I’ve been dealing with uncertainty a lot in recent weeks, uncertainty in many forms. Sometimes it’s debilitating, sometimes paralyzing, and sometimes invigorating. It’s all down to how I respond to it. It strikes me that in our contemporary society we have one response; we make plans, we insure against surprise, we store up against the rainy day, and focus on “looking after my idea of what’s important”.
Surprisingly (!) we actually try and live our lives by these grand plans, schemes, visions, strategies, tactics, and devious ingenious devices to achieve our obtuse and oftentimes selfish desires. The Bible is full of this type of, well, let’s use a polite word here, and call it “stuff”.
With Esther, the King and Haman made plans (Est 3:13) – that was a hotbed of xenophonia if ever there was one! The Israelites had a plan when they built the golden calf, Pharaoh had a plan for the Jews (so did Hitler by the way), Paul had a plan on the way to Damascus, the Jews had a plan for Jesus, and Jesus had much to say for the man who made plans (Lk 12:18-21).
Weren’t they surprised!!!!
Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating that we should do away with pension schemes and medical insurance and making plans. But I am saying, where is your faith? What are you putting your trust in? In your plans?
Now I think Mugabe has a (twisted) plan, and the ANC Youth League have a possibly nefarious plan. The Mayor of Cape Town has a plan for 2010, and your church leaders try to have a plan for StB. Plans are good, but plans that don’t have space for surprise are plans for defeat.
Imagine you’re walking down the road chatting away to Jesus, talking about how you’re going to feed the homeless down at the station. And as you head down the hill you get a sense Jesus has just done a left turn; but that wasn’t in your plan!
Or imagine you finished varsity, you’re headed to a career in accounting and a placement at a top firm. Suddenly, surprisingly, you’re offered a post out of the blue to work for an NGO. How tightly do you hold to your plans now, how do you even discern?
It’s a characteristic that when our faith is weak, our plans are strong. We forget Paul (the super saint of all times?), who said “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” Rom 7:19
If even Paul knew the fragility of his ability to implement his plans, where do we stand?
So, what then: Plan, but hold your plans lightly, because you WILL be surprised.