Surprise: Setting out on an Adventure

I have never really liked surprises.  Don’t tell my mom but one year my sister and I unwrapped and re-wrapped all our gifts.  I have to admit, we ruined Christmas both for us and for my mom and dad who were robbed of seeing our surprise.

In response to my post “Releasing Creativity”, my friend Tom Mitchell shared the following quote from Walter Brueggeman, “Our penchant for control and predictability, our commitment to quantity, our pursuit of stability and security – all this gives us a sense of priority and an agenda that is concerned to reduce the element of surprise and newness in our lives. And when newness and surprise fail, there is not likely to be graciousness, healing or joy. Enough critics have made the point that when experiences of newness are silenced in our lives, there is no amazement, and where there is no amazement, there cannot be the full coming to health, wholeness and maturity.”(Walter Brueggeman, Living Toward a Vision, (New York: United Church Press, 1987)

As I move from Wendy McCaig, Executive Director, to Wendy McCaig, author, I feel like I have embarked on a whole new adventure.  Even in Embrace Richmond’s unpredictable nature, it has become “normal” for me.  As I contemplate book signings, speaking engagements, traveling, and promotion around my book, there is a real sense of fear of the unknown that lies ahead.

My book has been in print for exactly one week and in the past week, I have had many surprises.  I have gotten emails from friends I have not spoken with in decades congratulating me on my book.  My facebook friends have cheered me on and I have found such joy in getting early comments from those who have read the book already.  However not all the surprises are pleasant, like the fact that the book is listed on amazon for the wrong price, and the fact that it is taking 2 weeks to get my first shipment of books.

I think what I gleaned from the quote that Tom shared is that it is all part of the deal.  When we go on an adventure with God we get both the good and the bad “surprises”, but it is only when we are open to surprise that we open ourselves up to moments of joy that are always a surprise.  I think that moment for me came this week when I showed my daughter the cover of the book which is a picture of my friend Yolanda that my daughter took and her name credited on the back of the cover.  Her surprised face and ultimate smile were priceless.  I wonder if God gets a kick out of surprising His children as much as we human parents do?

Leaving the comfort of what we know and venturing into uncharted waters is never easy.  I find that every time I start to get comfortable, God calls me out on a whole new adventure.  I know many of you are in seasons of discernment.  I think the Brueggeman quote shared by my friend Tom is for all of us whose lives are being shaken and stirred right now.

What do you think of this quote?  Have you found it to be true in your life?  What would you say to those of us who are preparing to set out on a new adventure?  How have you been surprised by God lately?

May we all be open to surprises and experience the joy, healing and amazement that await us.


Filed under Book Related, Personal Reflection, Theology

7 responses to “Surprise: Setting out on an Adventure

  1. Charles Fitzgerald

    About ten months ago you encouraged me to step out on faith in pursuing the purchase of this large house in Highland Park. Wendy, you told me that I could do it and at that time I used your faith in me to step into some very uncomfortable areas of life. I had never paid rent in an apartment let alone a house. It’s really funny how GOD places people in your life to give you those added words of encouragement like “you can do it”. If it were not for the bad, I really wouldn’t enjoy the good.

    • wmccaig

      Your comment reminds me of a the lyrics to a song I know “I had to walk the rocks to see the mountain view.” I think there is truth in that. We have been walking on a lot of “rocks” lately, I think we are in a season of starting to see the mountains just over the horizon. You have been so faithful in your commitment to providing shelter to those with serious barriers to housing, I know God is going to make a way for you to purchase that house.

  2. Wendy, my world has been in such a whirlwind lately that I haven’t had a chance to say “Yeah you!” What an insperation you are – you always are. Without a doubt i feel that it is in the surprises that we see God, come to know him and then grow through grace. Some of our surprises will be the happy ones, but even our darker more desperate times bring us new growth and insights and it is this that we are again surprised and grow in grace.

    In regard to new adventures – never turn away from an adventure. Life is designed to be a great adventure and once we begin to live within our comfort zone and stop being willing to take risks, I think these are the times we begin to loose some of the joy. Our risks don’t need to be dramatic or expensive – they just have to make our heart flutter. Sometimes this can come from something as simple as saying hi to a stranger. So sieze the opportunity to pursue new adventures – do so with discernment but don’t let a raised heart rate be the only thing to stop you 🙂

    Has God surprised me lately – Oh my yes! I have to say most of my surprises were not initially the happy ones. The last several months have been amongst the most terrifying and stressful times in my life. I’m still swimming in decisions to be made – and directions to go – but throughout this process I have been so overwhelmingly blessed by God’s grace. I have had so many opportunities to see God’s hand touching my life and the life of those I love. I am in the midst of crisis being transformed and being allowed to move even closer to God and move to a new chapter in life.

    I am being faced with making some major choices – some will make people like me – some, no doubt, will create some anger & hurt. But I am convinced that I have a new understanding of God’s call on my life – I doubt I have a full understanding yet – and I am ready to move onward & upward to advance His kingdom and hopefully have some fun & joy in the process.

    Gotta say Wendy – I LOVE surprises 🙂

  3. wmccaig

    Ok, you have me curious. When you are ready, please share with me your “new understanding of God’s call on your life”. The anticipation is killing me…what is next for Joyce???

    I also wanted to tell you something you already know. You can’t follow God and please man at the same time. I have had many people angry with me lately but my prayer is that they see my heart and understand, I am trying to be faithful to someone higher than myself for purposes far greater than any one individuals needs.

  4. Janie

    this is a great quote and I am happy to see how you have ’embraced’ it. Reminds me of a conversation with my daughter a few days ago. She mentioned how disappointing it is to her to see that children in general have lost their sense of ‘wonder.’ I surmise that for children their sense of wonder is as important to life as the sense of surprise is to adults. We most certainly need to be open to the joys, elation and learning that surprises and wonder bring. While I tend to prefer having a knowledge of what’s next, I am never disappointed when I see joy expressed in a child. By the way, Tom’s great for coming up with good quotes.

  5. Rudy

    As you know, I have left the security of being around people that I know and care for; for good of my health and mental well-being. I really believe that when we follow God, we make choices that only he understands. You may be afraid, other people may look at you like you’ve lost your mind. They may even doubt your dedication or your integrity; but in the end Gods plan for you will shine through. You just have to endure and keep pressing on to the mark. I really believe that people are in your life for a season and then God moves you on to meet someone else. Sometimes it’s not too much fun to know what’s around the corner. If you always know, you would not put forth your best efforts and you could not give God the glory. Which is what living life is all about. Thanks for allowing me to share!

  6. wmccaig

    Thanks everyone for sharing. It is especially good to hear from you Rudy. I pray you are doing well. One thing about doing this work that has surprised me is the number of times that it appears certain people are only a part of my life for a season and then after a season of absence, they re-appear. Just today my prodigal son, Theron, reappeared. As I am sure Charles will point out, he was in need of assistance but it is always good to see old friends. Please don’t be a stranger and as always your insights contain great wisdom.

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