The Greatest Surprise

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2016 25 Dec

majestic purple night sky, with dawn just beginning

If someone were to ask me what the greatest surprise of my lifetime has thus far been, I would have to say that it was the shock (and that is not too strong a word) I felt when I encountered God’s love for the first time. I was in my twenties, recently graduated from college and struggling with any number of confusions. Into this mess, God made himself known in a way beyond my imagining or hope. Before that, I had thought of God—if I thought of him at all—as a distant figure. I wasn’t too sure he existed. If he did, I was pretty certain he would not want anything to do with me. That the opposite was true took me off balance and disarmed me. That he would reveal a deep tenderness toward me was even more shocking.

It is now Christmas Day, many years after that initial discovery.

We are familiar with the glitter of the season, but we often miss its glory. That God would decide on a solution to the sin problem that involved becoming one of us should continue to surprise and shock us. It should challenge the things we think we know about God, especially any designation of God as unloving, distant, or uncaring. And it should rattle our assumptions that we or anyone else is unlovable or beyond his help. To harbor such thoughts is to disregard the evidence. It is to be disloyal to the one who made us and disloyal to ourselves as people who are loved and cherished by the most important person in the universe.

This year, as you ponder the meaning of Christmas, ask God to help you penetrate the mystery of the Incarnation more deeply. Tell him you want to celebrate all he has done. Then ask him for the grace to be ready—for he is coming again!