Saturday, January 11, 2020

God’s Little (and Not so Little) Surprises - Martin Wiles

Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you! Ezra 1:3 NLT
She moved from behind the building … graceful … beautiful … a sight to behold.
My wife and I and another couple headed for Cataloochee Valley, North Carolina, hoping to catch a glimpse of elk, which the park service had reintroduced into the Smokies in 2001.
After parking, the first site we visited was the old schoolhouse. Since the door was locked, I moseyed around the side, hoping to get a peek in one of the windows. That’s when my wife hollered, “Woooah.”
As I turned to her and then back to what she hollered at, I saw her. A large mother elk strolling from behind the schoolhouse. She stood, munched on greenery, and let us take as many pictures as we wanted. We walked in her personal space, but she didn’t seem to mind.
After our photo session, we tried to move ahead of her to visit the other sites, but she kept just ahead of us. One motorist warned us that we were in the danger zone, as if we didn’t know. Momma elk finally lumbered into the woods, and we moved on. On our walk back to our vehicle, we saw her two-year-old calf grazing beside the road. She, too, paused for a photo op and then joined her mom in the wooded area.
The captive Jews were surprised, too. They had lingered in Babylonian captivity for seventy years—until King Cyrus took over. A kind-hearted king, he let those who wanted return to their homeland to rebuild the Jerusalem temple.
God often sends little (or big) surprises along our life’s way. Momma elk was one, and seeing her brought us joy. God desires to bring good things into our lives. His surprises often require change. The Jews who returned to Jerusalem had to give up their comfortable lifestyle in Babylon for hard work and persecution in Jerusalem. But those who took the challenge eventually found better days ahead. God’s surprises always do that. Even though the surprise is sometimes unpleasant, the end result will be pleasant.
When God sends surprises, they present a choice. Knowing we were in the danger zone, we could have turned away and not enjoyed the elk’s presence. We chose to stay. Many Jews chose Jerusalem over exotic Babylon.
Learn to enjoy the little—and big—surprises God sends your way. They are always for your good.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the surprises You bring into our lives. May we enjoy them as a sample of Your abiding presence with us.

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