As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.
I felt the disappointment as I awakened to another rainy day. It felt like such a waste that we had traveled so far desiring to enjoy driving through the majestic Canadian mountains. The gentle rain fell continuously and the fog hung thick. I knew the mountains surrounded us but I couldn’t see anything. We continued to drive as I strained my eyes hoping to catch a peek of the majestic. Nothing! Just clouds, fog and rain. It felt like many days of life when expectations are unmet and you reach to find God’s beauty in the midst of the mess.
We chose joy and asked God to help us see Him in unexpected ways. I wanted to see Him in the mountains that had once taken my breath away, but instead we turned to thrift store shopping. It began with a hunt for a much needed rain jacket for my husband. It felt so silly and somewhat ridiculous that we had taken time off work, flown across the US, rented a car, booked a room to go thrift shopping. How crazy is that? Before entering the store I began praying out loud.
“God I was expecting to see your glory in the mountains, but they are hidden today. The mountains are hidden but you are not. I know that you can reveal yourself to us any way that you want. I lay down my expectations and watch for you. Surprise us Lord! Today, surprise us with yourself in any way that you choose.”
We entered the first thrift store and after glancing through the clothes and knick-knacks I scurried to my favorite spot containing books. The first book that I pulled from the shelf brought a smile, “Surprise Me”, A Thirty Day Faith Experiment. I flipped over to read the back cover and there in print were almost the exact words I had prayed before entering the store. I quickly purchased the book and ran to the car and began reading. The author, Terry Esau, wrote the book while doing the 30-day experiment of starting every day praying, “Lord Surprise Me”. Looking for God in the ordinary. Expecting nothing in particular, yet looking for God in people, encounters, thoughts, experiences of the day. Throughout the trip, I gripped the book tightly as if I were holding a mountain. Not the one I expected to see but the one God put in my hand.
I have begun the practice and it brings a fresh perspective to an ordinary day. This simple prayer strips away expectations and causes eyes to open wide looking and listening for God. As we continued our day with a newly purchased $10 rain jacket…broken zipper and all, and a “surprise me” attitude, we found a gorgeous beach spot including a bird sanctuary, beautiful interesting people to chat with, a much needed cup of tea and freshly baked tiny doughnuts nestled beside a warm fire. As we chose to thank God for our day and enjoy Him all around, the disappointment turned to great joy and anticipation. There was a peace in our hearts because we knew that God was very present.
The following day, we awakened to the sun begging to burst through the clouds. By the time we were on the road, all had cleared and there they were! The mountains that I knew had been hiding. I giggled, cried, and clung to the window taking it all in.
Today the out loud prayer went like this: “God this is just like life. Some seasons of life are filled with rain, mist, fog and clouds. It looks like you have disappeared. Life can feel so alone and disappointing, but I must live knowing that you are there. My eyes couldn’t see the mountains, but I knew they were there. Open the eyes of my heart Lord.”
“So fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:18
God spoke loudly: We must live in the midst of the storm knowing that the God we cannot see is there. The storm does not change the truth. Be careful because the storm will snag your faith and cause you to doubt. When you have seen the majesty of God; when you have tasted and seen that He is good; when you have been fed by His hand and walked through separated waters, you must live knowing that He is there even when you can’t see Him.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Heb. 11:1