In the last few days, I've been surprised that some of the sense of clarity on calling I've felt is shifting a bit. I've been surprised to discover that old wounds I thought I had grown out of are more present than I want them to be.
I've been surprised by how God has chosen to comfort and lead me. Surprised by the new place I sense Him directing my heart towards in academics and service. Surprised by each gift He chose this week to show me joy: a voicemail from my sister, a perfect run by farms on a fall afternoon, texted prayers, a favorite friend spending an after-dinner hour drinking tea and talking at my kitchen table.
I've been surprised and dismayed at how quickly hard-fought-for contentment seemed to vanish from my heart, and how far from trust I really am. And surprised to discover how quickly I reach for Scripture when I don't know what else to do- certainly much quicker than I used to. If ever I needed a sign of His work.
Two days ago, I was surprised by an unexpected email from my dear friends Chris and Lauren. Their community rejoices this week in surprise, amazement, awe, and praise at the great surprise God has just given them: on two days notice their family has grown to include a brand-new, beautiful baby boy.
I cried in joyful, surprised delight on the phone with Lauren Wednesday night, as she told me the details of their week. I told her that listening to her and seeing the pictures of Alex, I am more sure of God's sovereignty than I've been since HNGR. How He knits! How He knows!
How He delights in our joy when He surprises us with beauty.
And how capable He is of surprising us with grace in our times of emptiness and need.
Yesterday I sent an email to a friend who graduated in May, who is transitioning out of college into this crazy adulthood thing. I wrote that the theme of that year for me was unexpected blessings- things I had never dreamed were coming and that were exactly what I needed. That was a painful year, and a good one: both the pain and the goodness, came through surprises. And the year after, this last year, was one of the just-plain-happiest times I've ever had. I couldn't have predicted or planned that either. Surprise.
This week I am feeling fear when I look to the future. And yet I think of surprises. We can't predict what He will do. Whatever I am feeling right now, I don't know what the future holds. I will be surprised with good gifts and direction I can't see now; I will be surprised by grace and presence in seasons of suffering.
As I shared yesterday- "Joy... is as notoriously unpredictable as the One who bequeaths it."
That I would fall more in love with Him for His very unpredictability.
Chris, Lauren, and Alex on Tuesday: joy beyond what could have been imagined.
Beauty and sustenance on my tables,
in Wheaton, 2010 (top) and Oregon, 2012 (bottom):
provision in each, in different, surprising ways.