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Mark 174 - Surprise



In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”


Mark 11:20,21


Jim Neighbors used to say, “Surprise. Surprise. Surprise” when playing Gomer Pyle[1]. It always came out when something unexpected happened. And usually, Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter was going to yell.


Some people like to be surprised. They enjoy the excitement, the flash of energy and adrenalin. Once surprised, they laugh and enjoy the ride.


Other people really don’t like surprises. It rattles them. Really shakes them up. Makes them uncomfortable.


I know that you’ll find this hard to believe, but I’m the first kind of person. I like surprises. They give me energy. I have a hard time understanding people that don’t like surprises. But that’s who they are, and I need to respect them and their wishes. No matter how wrong they are. Just kidding. No, I’m not.


Whether or not we like surprises, God sometimes shows up and surprises us. No matter how much we study the Bible. No matter how many stories we hear about God’s faithfulness. His mercy. His power. We’re still surprised when God steps in unexpectedly and moves a mountain. Heals. Answers prayer.


God speaks from who he is. With all his power. All his foreknowledge. All his justice and judgement, All his mercy and grace. He does what he says he will do. He shows grace on the weak. Mercy on the humble. Judgement on the proud.


And when it happens, we act like it’s the biggest thing since the creation of the universe. We just don’t get who God is. We can’t wrap our minds around him. And that’s exactly the way it should be.


I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.


Isaiah 45:5


The kind of faith that the disciples had is one of surprise. They’ve been with Jesus for some time. They’ve seen him perform miracle after miracle. They’ve seen things that no one else had ever seen before. They’ve heard teaching and sermons like no one had ever heard before. They saw one man stand against the entire Jewish religious establishment.


They’ve seen it all. And yet, how do they react? Surprise! They are totally blown away. They’re out of their minds with excitement and astonishment. They point to the fig tree that was alive and is now dead.


This is the total opposite of the words spoken by the forgiving father about his returning son. This son was dead but is alive again[2]. This time, it’s this tree that was alive, and now it’s dead.


Many people would be silent, dumbfounded by what just happened. But not our friend Peter. He points just in case anyone couldn’t see that the tree was dead. He shouts with astonishment. It was totally unexpected. It was way outside anything he had seen or heard before. Or was it? Remember the great catch of fish[3]? His response was way over the top.


And isn’t Peter just like us? Or should I say that we’re just like Peter? God has been faithful over and over again. He’s “pulled our bacon out of the fire” so many times that we’ve lost count. He’s provided over and over again. He’s forgiven over and over, and over, and over again.


And yet we’re still so surprised. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give God praise and glory. I’m not saying that we should be cold and frozen towards God. Not at all. But do we anticipate God to do what he’s said that he will do?


To put it another way, are we expecting God to be God? Do we know God well enough that we expect him to act? To answer? To provide?


I’m not saying that we can figure God out, anticipating his every move. But can we live life in such a way that we look for him to show up? Do we live with our eyes wide open for God showing up in our daily life?


If you’re like me, I’m more like Peter than I’d like to admit. I close my eyes, ears, and heart to God. I’m locked away in the silent cell of self-sufficiency. And when I do happen to look up and see God right there, I point and shout in amazement.


I think that can be described as a lack of faith on my part. A lack of looking for God in the daily details of life. Or to put it more bluntly – sin. It’s sin needing confession, repentance, and forgiveness


How about you?

[1] https://youtu.be/k5VZjT0JE70 [2] Luke 15:24 [3] Luke 5:6

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