Surprise!

quote imageFortunately, God is not what we think God is—not in any small way what I might think, nor in any big way the sum total of what a whole bunch of thinkers, great thinkers through the centuries, might think. And yet we have no choice but to try to think what God is, what and who God might be. At some point God comes to meet such thoughts. God arrives and appears as Surprise…. And something new is grasped in the surprise; something is learned; experience—it could be called experience with God—is gained. But God remains infinitely free, infinitely out of our control in whatever we come to know.”  (Jeremy Driscoll OSB in A Monk’s Alphabet)

“God arrives and appears as Surprise.” Of course he does! The Bible is full of such sightings: the burning bush, the wrestling match with Jacob, the voice interrupting Samuel’s sleep, the vision of Isaiah, the call of Jeremiah.  But of course, the biggest Surprise was the birth of the Messiah to a young teen-age girl, the Surprise that changed the world so much that his birth separates our recording of history into eons before Christ and after Christ.Father Jeremy 3

God is a Surprise as well as a God of surprises.  And yet we attempt to keep him in our little box – which is different from a Catholic’s box or a Lutheran’s box and certainly beyond comparison (in our thinking) to a Muslim’s box or a Buddhist’s box or a Hindu’s box. Humans attempt to box up God so that we can understand or predict or control or protect God. This is the ultimate insult to God’s character. We fall to the level of Adam and Even who thought they could fool God and then hide.  Our tension is, as Jeremy Dixon puts it, that while we are trying to figure out who God is, we have to remember that God remains infinitely free, infinitely out of our control. We need to take the lid off the box and admit to being powerless so that we can truly relate to God.

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2 Responses to Surprise!

  1. Tim Henley says:

    I wonder what boxes I’ve placed what I’ve come to view as, “God” in. Even typing “God” shows others that I’m wrestling still with the very simple concept of God. Yet, I know that God is the creator of the heavens and the earth and too grand to every fully realize the vastness of his majestic glory. I cannot comprehend his greatness nor his ways. Thank you Karen for always helping me gain perspective. It is of great comfort to be able to see into the heart of your writings and see another soul thirsty and desiring to delightfully experience and express the wonders of this life.

  2. Tim,
    Balancing the concept of God as the Creator and King of the world with the idea that Jesus demonstrated of God as an intimate father and friend is extremely difficult. I believe that if we put aside our rigid narratives and let God surprise us, we can live in the paradox. Richard Rohr continually points out that Christianity is full of paradoxes. Sometimes we just have to say, “I
    don’t get it and I don’t have to get it to live in and rejoice over the paradox.”

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I so appreciate your perspective.

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