Sunday, February 12, 2006

Surprised By Joy

A couple of nights ago I took James to his hockey practice at Kinsmen ‘B’ arena at 730. The practice was a late addition to his team’s hockey schedule and I thought nothing of it. As an assistant coach I love getting on the ice with my son and the other boys on his hockey team.

As we entered the parking lot for the twin arenas I thought to myself that there sure are a lot of cars here tonight. Upon entering the arena James was ushered to the dressing room by the manager and our head coach Brett took me upstairs to join the parents meeting concerning the upcoming tournament in Calgary in March. I didn’t remember hearing anything about a parents meeting but thought that it was a good idea to discuss how we’ll approach the travel, accommodations and whether or not we’ll get some skiing in the mountains in.

There was no one in the upstairs restaurant so we went searching for the group by the simulated golf games. As we approached the driving range a saw one of James’ friends playing ball hockey. I said to myself, “James will never believe that Matt was playing hockey where we had the parents meeting!”

In fact, there were a whole bunch of James’ friends and our neighbors from Lendrum playing hockey and to my chagrin I discovered the best kept secret of the day: a surprise birthday party orchestrated by Anola! I couldn’t believe that her complicated plan had come together and that I hadn’t suspected a thing. Many individuals contributed Academy Award performances to keep me in the dark about the events.

As I reflected on the surprise it reminded me that we really never know what to expect in a day; events and relationships can change in an instant. We have a choice to not be afraid and proceed with trust because we follow Jesus or we can always be preoccupied wondering when catastrophe will strike.

We can choose to anticipate that when surprise comes our way it will bring joy and not always harm. I was reminded too, of C. S. Lewis’ account of his conversion called Surprised By Joy. In that book he recalls thinking that he’s the most reluctant convert ever, but that God filled him with such joy when he yielded his life to the carpenter from Galilee. Of even greater interest is the fact that Lewis discovers the deepest of human love in his wife Joy, whom he meets in 1952. He really was Surprised By Joy.

On Thursday night, I too was surprised by joy (and Anola!). God shows up when you sometimes least expect it and most need it.

Philemon 7
I myself have gained much joy and comfort from your love because your kindness has so often refreshed the hearts of God's people.


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