“At that moment Jesus’ disciples returned, and they were greatly surprised to find him talking with a woman.” (John 4:27)

I was walking through the National Botanical Gardens last week and was surprised by this one lonely blossom shooting from the cactus plant draped over the rocks.  That’s one of the reasons I’m fond of cacti.  The plants are bizarre and beautiful, but then almost out of nowhere come these amazingly gorgeous blossoms.  What a surprise!
Sometimes surprise brings delight and joy, while other times it brings heartache and pain.  I’ve been surprised by the goodness and generosity of some, and surprised by the rudeness and callousness of others.  What do we do when we’re surprised?  A surprise can be a pivotal moment in a relationship.  How we respond might just make a difference between drawing closer together or moving further apart.  When the disciples were surprised by Jesus they responded by respectfully listening and learning.  They grew in their relationship with Jesus and each other.

So… if how we respond to a surprise can be so important, what are we to do?  We can’t plan for a surprise, can we?  Maybe we can’t plan, but can we prepare?  Yes, I believe we can.  If we practice appreciation and giving thanks, then I think when surprised by beauty, kindness, or generosity we will be more likely to pause and notice the surprise and acknowledge with thanksgiving and joy.  If we practice patience, humility, and forgiveness, then I think when surprised by rudeness and callousness we are more likely to respond with grace rather than retaliation.

We can’t plan, but we can prepare.  That’s exactly what Jesus was doing with disciples – preparing them for all the surprises they would encounter as they lived out the Kingdom’s message of peace, hope, and love.  I pray that God will help me prepare.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my new book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

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~ by revgenelson on September 21, 2011.

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