I rarely like surprises. It is one of the reasons I enjoy Singapore. Surprises in this community come from the choices individuals make, not from the way things work. Buses run on time, as scheduled, with many stops displaying the time until the next one arrives. Public services work as articulated; queues are orderly, service predictable, and forms are simple, direct, and to the point. In a country with four official languages, there is a single language requirement for all business records. Big brother is alive, monitoring traffic, documenting movements and access in ways many would find intrusive, yet it works. No surprises. It can be a bit boring.
As well as this country works, life is rarely like this at a personal level, even in Singapore! The unknown surfaces when individuals exercise freedom. Anything can and will happen. Old people offer their seats to a mother with restless kids on a bus. A Starbucks barista pauses to give directions to a lost tourist. A taxi driver refuses to pick someone up for reasons not apparent to anyone. In a country driven by making money, individuals walk away from big opportunities for reasons only they know.
Just when one thinks everything is going according to plan, something strange, unusual, or unpredictable happens. It has been going on for centuries. Even when those in control thought that they were in control, “someone showed up and said, 'Did you know that the men you put in jail are back in the Temple teaching the people?'” (Acts 5.25) Surprises can and will happen, usually when we least expect it.
I find God asking us to do something strange. Rather than trying to control the uncontrollable or managing the unmanageable, Divinity invites us into the present to simply be and do. “Let life surprise you in its wonder. Let life envelope you in its awe. Live in the moment at hand, dispensing compassion, exercising mercy, and gifting acceptance.” It is a wonderful way to live, letting surprises wash over you with a sense of abandonment. Engaged living comes with surprises.
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