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Surprise!

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Surprises are a mixed bag. Some are welcome, some not:

an unexpected birthday party,

a positive pregnancy test,

a letter from the IRS, months after you’ve paid your taxes,

a bouquet of flowers when it’s not your anniversary or birthday,

a deer that leaps in front of your car at 60 mph.

This week I was surprised–pleasantly–by sunflowers.

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Six feet tall, seven at the best–that was all I expected. According to the description on the back of the sunflower seed packets, these varieties shouldn’t be this tall.

The Mammoth Russians I knew would grow eight to twelve feet high, but I was surprised to be looking up at the Evening Sun and Autumn Beauty sunflowers towering four feet above me, reaching into the eaves of the garage.

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When I get more than I bargain for,

more than I expect,

more than I deserve,

it warms my heart, triggers happy tears, and drops me to my knees.

These are the surprises that amaze and astonish.

And the greatest surprise, the epiphany that prompts hands raised in praise?

I am surprised to be loved by God.

I am in awe of the great wonder of Jesus’ saving grace and His startling love for me.  It is more than I could expect, more than I deserve.

But me he caught—reached all the way
    from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
    the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,
    but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
    I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!

Psalm 18:16-19   MSG

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God continues to bless me with the wonder of the unexpected. This week, as I photographed the sunflowers (those I could reach), I noticed the scarlet shape of a male cardinal sitting on the garage window sill, half hidden behind the thick stalks. Then I startled into flight a bright, mating-season yellow goldfinch, that had been perched on a ripening seed head.

I had received another surprise, a gift wrapped in beauty with a “card” signed, “your loving Father.”

We’ll never comprehend all the great things he does;
    his miracle-surprises can’t be counted.  Job 9:10

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My prayer for us all:

May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you . . .              2 Thess. 2:16-17   MSG

How has God surprised you this week?

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My thanks go to blogger Walter Bright. I was inspired by his post “Surprised by His Love,” commenting on Psalm 18:16-19 MSG.

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