He is like a Secret Santa gift but so much more!! I am thinking of how the Christmas story was so unpredictable, God taking on human form, born to a virgin (She wasn't even married), and birthed in a manger. Those who waited for Him based on the prophecies of hundreds of years were expecting a king. Kings are born in palaces surrounded by royalty and soldiers. This was not the case. The expectations of how things "should be" were not. He escaped to Eygpt to avoid the wrath of a ruler threatened by His coming. As we know, he was raised by a carpenter and lived an ordinary life. At twelve, He hung out with the religious teachers of His day, inquiring and speaking to them. They were awestruck! Later in His life, He delays going to His friend who is sick (Having the power to heal) so that He could later raise Him from the grave. Those of His day were looking for Him to overthrow the government, but He came as a servant. Jesus jolted the understanding of God with His coming, and He still does today. Mary, His mother, pondered these events in her heart. These were all unpredictable to those looking for His coming and plan, yet He came as He is. He did not meet their expectations but came to show the world/us a better way.
This lands on me awkwardly. I hold to how I understand God, and He surprises me by working in ways far more than I understand. He has often wrecked my theology (understanding) and solidified it too. I sometimes wonder if I have boxed God so tightly to my understanding that the mystery of God is without consideration. It's like having religious understanding without revelation. I desire both!
I am considering all those who encountered Christ's birth and how their theology must have been shaken, how they were caught off guard. The choice when being "rattled" theologically is to either strengthen my defenses to the walls of my box or loosen my grip and see God in a fresher light. I am not saying we throw our beliefs aside (they steady us), but rather an invitation to relax, breathe, and see how God supports our surprises through His word, His church, and His people. God is not uptight. Our belief systems are not God. Even Christ said to the religious leaders of His day, "You look to the Word thinking you have life but refuse to come to me." There is a coming to Him first that invokes understanding and revelation. This is significant. God is not walking on eggshells with us, nor are we called to walk with Him like that. Love doesn't provoke fear in relationships. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
If He can surprise the world with how He appeared, He can surely surprise us. Do I have the perseverance of faith to endure, consider, and wrestle through His surprises and even my unmet expectations in life?
I think many have given up on Christianity because their theological box was flattened or damaged, and there was no making sense of faith after that event(s) in their lives. As a chaplain, I have met countless believers praying for a miracle in their lives that never came. I heard people explain it away as one not having enough faith or there must be sin in their lives - goodness. Can the ways of the God of all eternity be so easily explained?
On the other hand, I have met others who peacefully entrusted themselves, and God showed up on the scene unexpectedly. Neither of these are equations nor can be explained to me to suffice, other than God is unpredictable while remaining faithful. God knows all things, all people, and all our circumstances. How can we contain Him fully in our limitedness? Our idealism about God is not faith. Faith trusts Him when we don't get our expectations and our uncertainties. Do my expectations solidify my beliefs, or do my beliefs inform them? Christians worldwide live with the bare necessities of life, endure persecution in their faith (trust), and God shows up for them in many unexpected ways.
Practicing spiritual companionship, I have learned the importance of discerning how God shows up in life. This learning will be a lifelong journey. He is not as apparent as I would like Him to be, and, more often, He surprises me. Isaiah states that His thoughts and ways are much higher than mine. In other words, He will show up in ways I don't expect, and if I hold to my idealism about God being more significant than how He shows up, I will miss Him. He faithful will be who He is to us and the world; we can trust in that.
I pray that God shows up to us in unpredictable and noticeable ways this Christmas season.