Saturday, July 26, 2008

Surprise Me, God

Last weekend at our home church (Hosanna in Lakeville) we had a guest speaker named Terry Esau (www.surprisemegod.com). He gave a talk entitled 'Surprise Me, God', and suggested those hearing the talk try this 30 day experiment: Start out each day by praying the simple prayer – Surprise me, God. And then not try and give God your agenda for the day. Instead, be more intentional about listening for God's Voice, especially in your dealings with others. The goal is to look for and understand what God is doing around you, and hopefully through you, each day.


 

It's an interesting experiment, and so I am willing to put on hold my normal Christian agenda of writing on my blog about Christian stuff. And I have stopped emailing an atheist friend that I have in my not-so-effective attempts at evangelism. This friend I have is over 75 years old, and is a hardcore member of the Minnesota Atheists group. The one result from this – he is having problems with macular degeneration of his eyes, and as he lives in a small town about 2 hours from town, the only doctor that comes to his town won't be there until mid-September. And he had no inexpensive way of seeing a doctor any earlier, and so I offered to pick him up, and take him to a doctor's appointment in town. His reaction was one of shock! Why would someone come and drive 2 hours four ways (go to pick him up, take him to his doctor, take him back home, and then drive myself home). So he refused saying it was too big of a favor to ask. But I insisted, saying that his eyesight was more important than anything else I would be doing that day. He may have found another driver service for older people, but we will see how this works out. It's fun showing God's Grace to others!


 

So because of this 30 day experiment, I likely will not be posting much on my blog during the next month. But I will let you know what I learned and saw at the end of this 'Surprise me, God' experiment.

5 comments:

edward oleander said...

Perhaps keep us updated as the surprises occur... maybe a little outside perspective can help figure out whether the surprises are really so... we could all be surprised!

edward oleander said...

Just so I'm clear... are you supposed to just not have ANY agenda for the next 30 days? Or are you supposed to pull a shell game on God and try to not let HIM know what your plans are, so he just has to guess about what to throw your way? Your wording was a trifle confusing...

If the first part is true, as the web site seems to suggest, and you wipe your whole agenda clean, will it be a surprise if the first thing you hear is, "Get your butt to work!"? Just asking...

edward oleander said...

What if, since it's kind of a boring thing and telling you to wouldn't really be a surprise, God doesn't tell you to pick up the kids after soccer? Can you just leave them there overnight? Again, just asking...

Would it be a surprise to find that God gives you no surprises? What if your daily routine is pretty much what Gods wants out of you right now? I mean, after you spent a fair amount of time trying to decide if God wanted you in the ministry, there shouldn't BE any major surprises for a few more years yet at least...

So here's another random thought... God isn't really famous for negotiating or caring greatly about what his subjects THINK they want. What if, during your calm meditations over the next month, you feel this strong desire to be a Mongolian Yak Herder... Do you go? How would you know it wasn't just Dares messing with your brain by using a "Message" spell?

Just so you know... I'm not really making fun OF the 30 day idea, since after all it is one of the first Zen things I've seen a Christian do in years, but I am trying to have fun WITH the idea, since, well, not for any really good reason, I guess...

tom wolff said...

Hey Ed,

Here is an example. Our Church asked for 'Kingdom Stories' to be submitted by Church members. And so I submitted this story, that was used a Pastor at this weekends' services:

I want to share one of the most beautiful experiences where God used me to help someone in trouble that happened a few years ago. I was in downtown Minneapolis and going to the Hennepin County Government Center, when a woman in her 40’s named Christine came up to me from one of the park benches and asked if I had some change for bus fare for her. I dug in my pocket and gave her the change. I knew she needed help, but I didn’t know what to do – so I sent a simple prayer asking what should I do? And I heard God’s voice clearly asking me to “pray’ with her.

Now, I am a quiet person, and I certainly don’t pray with strangers. And because I could she was sad, and half of the glasses she was wearing were torn off, I decided to ask if I could sit next to her. I then asked her if everything was OK with her. She told me that she was just at a hearing in the Courthouse, and that her children were just taken away from her. I could she was about to lose it, when I heard God’s gentle voice again asking me to pray with her. But I didn’t have the courage yet, and so I asked her some general questions about where she was in her walk with God. I then mustered the courage and asked her if I could pray for her.

But before I started praying, I looked at her and said I know how devastated I would be if my three daughters were taken away. (I had three daughters at this time in my life.) She looked at me astonished asking how I knew that she had three daughters. As I started to pray she took my hands, and I prayed at this park in downtown Minneapolis that the Lord give her strength and that her daughters to be returned to her one day. Christine started sobbing, and this was when I noticed the scars on her wrist.

This is when God revealed His next surprise. Christine then told me that her husband had died two weeks ago. She had previously been in two car accidents, and she was in physical pain from this. And now with her children being taken away, she was going to use the bus fare I had given her to go home and end her life. Yes, this poor woman who had gone through so mu much was going to take the change I gave her to go home and kill herself. I was crying with her as I put my arms around her. I listened as she poured out the pain she was going through, and how much she appreciated knowing God still cared for her, because of the simple prayer I said that day.

God is great, all praise to Him who uses the simple prayers of even slow-acting people like me to show His tremendous love for those who are hurting.

Edward Oleander said...

Ok... That counts. You might even get extra credit and a Get Out Of Jail Free card for that one...

I have a somewhat different view about the praise your god deserves over the whole incident. But until he gets his act together and starts doing things my way, I'm glad he's got soldiers he can count on to pick up his slack.

Her story was probably 75% false, and the whole analysis of what and why would take pages, but the bottom line is this: Likely the only true parts were the kids and her intention to kill herself. The truth of the rest of it doesn't really matter at that point, does it? There's a really good chance you saved a life that day.

You done good, Bro...