The life of faith is full of surprises

(Photo: Unsplash/Numendil)

Life can be full of surprises. American author and educator George Leonard summed it up well when he said, "Perhaps the safest prediction we can make about the future is that it will surprise us."

I reckon South African pilot Rudolph Erasmus would happily agree with that fascinating observation. Erasmus was flying a private jet at some 11,000 feet when he discovered he had a very unwelcome passenger on board. A Cape cobra! A snake that is so lethal it can kill someone in thirty minutes. I can hardly begin to imagine what went through his mind when he saw it.

Reflecting on his nightmare after he had made an emergency landing, he told the BBC, "To be truly honest, it's as if my brain did not register what was going on. It was a moment of ... awe. I felt this cool sensation, sort of, crawling up my shirt."

Not surprisingly, he added, that his passengers had been stunned into silence as well.

I can't but think of the word 'surprise' when I think about the resurrection of Jesus too, because in spite of everything He had said in the weeks and months leading up to his death, the disciples were certainly caught off guard. Mary thought someone had moved his body and the apostle Thomas was full of doubts even after the other disciples had assured Him that Jesus had really appeared to them.

We shouldn't be surprised by this. Although some Jews at the time believed in a future resurrection, they believed it was something God would do for the whole nation at the end of the world and not for a solitary individual. In fact, common sense suggested that the death of Jesus only went to prove that He was not their long-awaited king.

As for non-Jews, the New Testament scholar NT Wright summed it up well when he wrote, "Whenever the question of bodily resurrection is raised in the ancient world the answer is negative. Homer does not imagine that there is a way back; Plato does not suppose anyone in their right mind would want one. There may or may not be various forms of life after death, but the one thing there isn't is resurrection: the word 'anastasis' refers to something that everybody knows doesn't happen."

In fact the resurrection of Jesus was so out of kilter with everyday thinking that it is yet another piece of evidence to support the Church's claim that it really did happen.

But that raises another very important issue: if Jesus is alive, we should be able to experience something of His presence in our everyday lives. At least that's the conclusion I came to in my early twenties. But can we? Well, like countless others, I have discovered over the years that He really can be a friend who will supply all my needs and a guide who can show me how I can live life to the full. Having said that, I have also learned that He is full of surprises or as one well-known preacher said, He is "gloriously, predictably unpredictable".

So don't let anyone persuade you that being a Christian is dull - my experience has shown me that the very opposite is true. So why not tell the Lord that you are willing to do anything He wants you to do. But be prepared. If you do, you could be in for many a surprise in the days ahead.

Republished from Christian Today UK.