By Arianna Cantillo, St. Catherine's Marietta
I don't know about y’all but I LOVE surprises. Not the kind where someone jumps out and scares you. But the kind that leave you feeling so loved and happy. Like the kind where you don’t really ask for anything in particular for christmas or your birthday, but maybe just something general like “clothes”. & You’re just crossing your fingers having faith in that relative that they pick out something just right. Then the best part is when they pull through with something even better than you could have imagined. It’s like they what you though you had no clue what to ask for. It’s because they know you so well. I feel like this is what our relationship with God is like and what the Gospel really talks about. The Gospel says that God’s surprises aren't meant to scare the living Jesus out of you, but sometimes they do and that's a whole other sermon for a whole other church service. But His surprises are the ones you didn’t see coming & the ones you never knew you needed. When God throws something random and crazy my way that ends up just working out perfectly I have the tendency to always say “It’s funny how God works”
But honestly, funny is the wrong word. I think this is actually the most awesome and wholesome part of being a Christian. We have an all powerful God that knows all of us by name, knows all of our wants and needs, and in the end has something so grand and beautiful planned for us. And even though God has a beautiful end to our story, He still loves to throw in good surprises for us along the way to keep us pursuing him. And personally I think good surprises are way better than getting what you want, when you ask for it. And that's not the life that God wants for us anyways. He doesn’t want for us to pray just so we get what we want. He calls us in the Epistle to have faith in Him. Because as the Gospel says He puts nothing but goodness into our lives. & I believe that in order to see the all encompassing goodness of our God the only way to do that is to have faith. Even though the bible puts it so simply, to have faith that God’s still there and that He works for your goodness, personally I find as the hardest thing about being a Christian. It’s the most tiring & hardest thing. You'll feel as if you just keep sinking and sinking, and while you’re trying to stay afloat in what can be the chaos and craziness of this world, you find yourself repeatedly saying “God’s got this. He’s got me. He’ll do something”. Full honesty, I think that takes more endurance and strength than being an olympic athlete. But when one of those God surprises comes along, it can really be what keeps you afloat until the storm passes.
For me, the readings this week hit really close to home. About nine months ago I suffered a concussion that lasted 9 horrible weeks. Nobody really understands what it’s like to have a concussion until you have one yourself which I would wish on no one. It’s not like a broken bone that you can still walk around with and theres a set date on when you’ll be back at it. A concussion disables you from basically even thinking normally. It was a long nine weeks of wondering why God would do this to me, why he would let me suffer for so long, rendering basically useless. Finally I was cleared to return to volleyball and spending time with friends and doing normal schoolwork (I'm a huge nerd so the fact that I couldn’t even do school work & go to classes KILLED me). But it was all over with and I was back to being a normal student athlete. Then a few weeks ago I get hit again. That very second I knew I’d have to quit volleyball and change my life around. I went into this concussion with the best spirit. I was like ‘we’re gonna do everything right. I’m gonna be back at it in a few weeks in time for school and I’m gonna have a great junior year. God’s got this. He has a plan” Yeah well after finding out I couldn’t go to work camp at Camp Mikell and still not being cleared before school started, threw me for a loop. I spent a whole day crying and asking God why. I kept having to go back to my thought process of “If God put this in my path for a second time and is making me go through all of this pain, whatever is at the end of this tunnel will make all this suffering feel like nothing”. That faith kept me going. It kept me from drowning.
All of us here are going through something that takes faith and fight to get through each day. But it’s the little things, or God surprises if you will, that make life more doable, whether its a friend who just randomly checks in on you but brings a smile to your face when you see their name on your phone, or a super supportive teacher or a counselor, or this awesome day on the river like today, or a supportive family member or youth leader. These are the ways God surprises us of his presence and unending goodness in our lives. It’s his reminder that “Hey! I’m still here! You’re doing great! Keep pushing! I got your back!”. I like to look at it as He’s basically you’re number one cheerleader at all times even when you feel like you’re losing every game. But honestly, what better person to have on your team than God. And these God surprises slowly teach you, that with God on your side and him always giving you the best, you don’t really ever lose a game. So I’ll leave you with three things:
Keep your head above water, not to just keep from drowning, but more importantly to look around and see how God is trying to remind you of his presence
Be someone else’s God surprise. Be the reason that someone feels God's presence
& finally and most important: you’ve got this. He’s got you. keep the faith.