by Matt Hein

When was the last time you were surprised? I mean, really surprised?

The other morning I stopped for coffee on my way to church. As I pulled into the parking lot, I swung around to take my place in the drive-thru lane, waiting for the cars ahead of me to order. To my surprise, a car pulled into the parking lot and cut right in front of me! The man driving didn’t look at me or acknowledge my presence in any way, and he was clearly in a hurry. The other driver began waving his hands and mouthing a lot of unkind words. He was in a HURRY! I continued to stare at him in disbelief. He had cut me off and didn’t even acknowledge my place in the line.

Have you ever been in a situation like that? What do you do? Often similar situations leave me so gripped with emotion that my thoughts turn to how unfair and inappropriate the action was. My mind drifts to numerous ways that I can make myself feel better for the great offense that was committed by retaliating (this was my morning coffee after all!), and when I go down that road I am so much less than a disciple of Jesus is called to be. Can you identify?

I think many of us who belong to Jesus find similar challenges each day. Our emotions or sinful sense of entitlement cut us off from God’s grace in Jesus. In those moments only He can renew us with His forgiving grace and cause us to be His vehicle for blessing others. When presented with a handful of choices that morning, and considering a handful of them, eventually I thought better of retaliating.

That morning, before honking the horn God directed my thoughts to consider that something was likely going on in this man’s life completely unknown to me. It could have been anything. To my surprise, I did something that does not come as naturally to me as I would like: I prayed for him. It was nothing complicated or poetic, just a simple prayer for his day to be blessed and for Jesus to continue stirring in his heart. There is no way to know what Jesus is doing in his life, but I know Jesus was there.

To my surprise, I did something that does not come as naturally to me as I would like: I prayed for him.

I hope his day improved and that he made it on time wherever he needed to go. Even more, whether this man was a disciple of Jesus or not, it is my hope that the circumstances of his day were used to draw him closer to Jesus. Whatever happened to him that day, this experience certainly drew me closer to Jesus in an even more surprising way.

Once his turn in line arrived, the other driver grabbed his coffee from the window and quickly sped away. I was preparing myself to be really nice to the server who was holding my coffee, convinced this man had probably been rude in his hurry. But before I could open my mouth the server said, “Good morning. The gentleman in front of you paid for your coffee.  Have a great day.” Surprise! I was stunned. God used this stranger as the most unlikely vehicle of blessing for me.

When you awake each morning, the surprises God has in store for the coming day are unknown. That morning in a coffee shop drive-thru I was surprised by God. He drew me to His heart by prompting my prayer for a stranger who had done something that seemed unfair. God used the same man to generously gift me with a cup of coffee. Most of all God allowed me to consider that He is always fully engaged in this world, sometimes in the most surprising ways.

When was the last time you were really surprised?  What was it and why did it surprise you?  Where was God in the middle of the surprise?