Surprises and a Great Big God

I just figured out the end of the book I’m reading. Actually, I’m not reading it. I’m listening to it on my phone because I’ve been spending my days driving around the state of Texas. It isn’t small. This morning I wasn’t driving, though; I was running. No, I’m not a runner. In fact, I hate running. It is completely purposeless. Unless you have been idle since the month of June because a wacky virus called mono took over your cells and left you without energy or endurance. The energy came back. The endurance has to be fought for. So that’s what I was doing this morning–fighting for endurance. And also listening to this book (because if I’m going to run, I’m certainly going to need something to distract me from the fact that I’m running).
None of that is the point. I just thought you might like to take a trip quick inside of my brain. You’re welcome here.

The point is that I figured out the ending of the book. The problem is that I still have 5 hours and 47 minutes until the actual end, so now I have to spend nearly 6 hours of my life listening to a story that I think I know the ending of, just to make sure I’m right. I have read almost every book that this author has written since I was 19 years old. Her twists are brilliant, and generally shocking. But at some point, I’ve listened to her enough that I’ve come to anticipate them.

At the moment I figured it out (sometime in the middle of mile 2 for those of you who are tracking with the running part of this story), I reacted with the excitement of a detective who just discovered a new piece of evidence that settles all the other pieces into place. But then I was a little disappointed. I love a brilliant plot twist, and I feel like I’ve ruined my own surprise. I was the kid that never searched for Christmas presents early because I love the mystery of a beautifully wrapped package. I will hide my eyes when you tell me to, and I will not peek. I do not want to tell you what I want for my birthday. I want you to guess, and I want to be surprised at what you’ve chosen.

So the moment I solved the mystery, I felt like a victor. And the next moment, I felt cheated.

I’m not supposed to be able to figure out the ending. You are supposed to surprise me. Shock me. Thrill me.

I ruined the story. Or maybe…maybe the author is more brilliant than I thought, and there is another twist that I don’t see coming. It’s enough to lure me out for another run.

But it got me thinking. I have done this to God recently. I have heard Him enough times in my life that I’ve begun to think I can anticipate what He is going to say. But guessing what He might say is a far cry from actually listening to Him. Anticipating what He might ask me to do is not the same thing as obedience. Even when I’m right, I’m still relying on me instead of Him.

I do know Him well. I have heard His voice. I can sometimes guess what He is going to do.

But I miss Him. I miss the thrill of His voice. I miss the comfort of His guidance. I miss the peace of His Presence. I’ve made an idol of the god-I-thought-I-knew, and I’ve set him up on a throne that belongs to God alone–the real God, the One who is greater and holier and scarier and more unpredictable than this shadow I’ve allowed to run my days. This predictably monotonous idol is safe, but it’s dull and lifeless and irritating, too. I whisper at it to surprise me, and it stares back blankly.

And the brilliant God of plot twists and intrigue whispers from behind me. And I spin around spell-bound.

He is bigger than I remember. And kinder. And funnier. And more terrifying. He is more- everything. More impressive. More scary. More comforting. More than He has to be.

And the part of me that thought I wanted to figure Him out–that part that played detective until He was just a piece of evidence that might make all the others fall into place–that part of me falls in worship at the feet of a God whose laugh rumbles into an earthquake that shakes all the other pieces out of place.

And I slip right back into place. Into my place. Into Him.

I know nearly nothing about this God Man. I no longer know what He might say, what He might do. But I do know Him.

And I trust Him. And I love Him so much. And I just needed to say that here.

That’s all. You can now resume your Tuesday. But you might want to look behind you. There’s a Great Big God out there whose voice still guides and whose presence still comforts and whose laugh still shakes up everything we thought we knew.

  1. Debi Kaplan
    Debi Kaplan
    October 22, 2014 at 1:48 am

    How well expressed! That is a rich banquet for thought, Cody. What I reduce God to being in my view of Him. I must be doing the same thing lately as I so miss His spontaneity and His ways of surprising me so. Thank you for giving me a nudge to let Him be completely who He is and not just to what I have reduced My view of Him to looking like. Thank you.

  2. Ann/Mom
    October 23, 2014 at 12:08 am

    Thanks for the reminder to turn around!! Love you! But can’t believe you are running again — surely there’s a better way (funner) way to get your endurance back??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Bible Study Lectures

Create a free account to unlock members-only content.