Sunday, October 8, 2017

Do You Want the Surprise?

Feeling the need to go deeper in my time of meditation and study, I came across a book that has been in my basket of books to read for quite some time. I think perhaps Hubby may have bought it when he was teaching lessons on Psalms at some point.  Regardless, for some reason, it held an appeal to me this morning. 

I use the phrase “for some reason” loosely, because I admit I do not understand the workings of the Holy Spirit - how He leads, how He directs, how He uses thoughts, impressions, inclinations. I will never understand how He sets things in motion days, months, years, and even ages ahead that will touch our heart, or meet a particular need at a specific day or moment when we are least expecting or perhaps are crying out for a touch from some deep longing otherwise gone unmet.

I do not understand but have personally experienced this miracle so many times. Today, when I picked up this book and took it outside to begin my Saturday morning with something new, little did I expect to receive a light, or enlightenment that so aptly addresses circumstances that have reeled our nation and affected so many in our country this week. 

When have we needed a Word from God more or a glimmer into man’s nature that cries out for a God who cares. A God who understands. A God who is in control in spite of everything that wants us to believe otherwise.

In explaining how he approached his study and approach to his book, the writer gave us a look into the realities of the human life as he sees it reflected through the Psalms.  He uses three themes in organizing his study - poems of orientation, poems of disorientation, and poems of new orientation. 

Human life - my life and yours can roughly be grouped this way, can’t they.  We may spend a lengthy period of time in either one or move from one to the other. 

Human life consists of what the writer refers to as “satisfied seasons of well being” where we see our lives as blessed, things going smoothly, nothing major challenging us.  This is the period of “orientation” when we experience joy, delight, goodness, there’s a sense of coherence in our lives.  We acknowledge our God, and our dependence on Him and rely on the consistency of His creation and governance in not only our lives but the world around us. Likewise there are psalms of orientation that reflect this sense of well-being.

Human life also consists of  periods of disorientation - “in anguished seasons of hurt, alienation, suffering, and death.”  We have all been there haven’t we, when rage consumes us.  When we are so full of resentment, self-pity, and hatred.  When we wonder how we will make another day or take another breath. When we are weighted down with disappointment and anger. When we don’t see anything good and wonder, “Oh God, where are you?”  The Book of Psalms also has these periods of disorientation, poems and speech that match our feelings of ragged pain and our own disorientation. They are called the lament passages. 

Isn’t this what so many are experiencing right now?  Not understanding what is going on in their lives and in the world around them. We as Christians are all too familiar with this sense of lostness, confusion, and wanting to see God at work.  To see His Glory manifested instead of what we may perceive as His anger and wrath.

What must it be like for the non-believer.

Then there are those times that human life consists of “turns of surprise” when we are overwhelmed with the new things of God, when joy finally breaks through the despair. Where there had only been darkness, we now see light; our sense of hopelessness has been cracked enough that there is a glimmer of something brighter, something better.  There is a reason to have hope again, to believe, to trust.   These are the passages in Psalms the writer refers to as “psalms of new orientation “.

It is a newness.  A fresh infusion that makes things that were once impossible seem possible again. These passages in Psalms affirm there is a sovereign God who puts humankind in a new situation.

Isn’t it true that this transformation period from darkness to light is never obvious, easy or natural. It is always in pain that surprise comes and it is often when we look back are we able to see that it happened.

We humans move from one of these periods - from one circumstance to another, changing and being changed, finding ourselves surprised by a new circumstance we had not expected.    Yet, we are so often resistant to this new place, clinging desperately to the old circumstance.

It is in this new orientation that we experience inexplicable joy, delight, amazement, wonder, and gratitude and recognize that it has to have originated from a Holy God.

The world so desperately needs this orientation and it can only be found when we reach the end of ourselves.

But, our culture isn't interested in moving from the first orientation.  We like continuity and success and to avoid pain, hurt and loss at all cost.  At the same time, we resist genuine newness and real surprise.  Surprise is as unwelcome as loss, and our culture is set up to prevent the experience of both.

When was the last time you heard a sermon from the lament psalms.  Why don't our churches teach these truths and thereby give us spiritual truths that we can use in recognizing, experiencing, and knowing that disorientation is reality.

 Our world is hurting.  It is frightened.  It is disorientated and desperately needs a surprise - a new orientation.

"When things were going great
    I crowed, “I’ve got it made.
I’m God’s favorite.
    He made me king of the mountain.”

Then you looked the other way
    and I fell to pieces.

 I called out to you, God;
    I laid my case before you:
“Can you sell me for a profit when I’m dead?
    auction me off at a cemetery yard sale?
When I’m ‘dust to dust’ my songs
    and stories of you won’t sell.
So listen! and be kind!
    Help me out of this!”

You did it: you changed wild lament
    into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
    and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
    I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
    I can’t thank you enough."
The Message Psalm 30:6-12

When we fail to allow a sovereign God the right to disturb our status quo and take us into disorientation, then we deny Him the right to give us the surprise.  The new orientation that brings with it amazement, wonder, awe and most of all thanksgiving.

We must show the world that Jesus Christ and His resurrection are the "surprise."  And it is only through Him that we will find the abundant life.

Linking to Amaze Me Monday 


  1. Beautiful post, Elizabeth. Thanks for the inspiration. Enjoy your Sunday!

  2. Your post is one to read over and over. I'm bookmarking this to reread to let it all sink in. Thank you for the inspiration to meditate on these scriptures.
    Thanks for your visit. Please come again.

  3. This post was very inspirational to me. Thank you for writing it. I have experienced these orientations time and again and God has always been faithful to bring the newness, the joy and delight, after the hard struggle. Those are the times that deepen my faith and thankfulness.


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