God loves surprise endings. He delights in unexpected plot twists that leave you saying, “I didn’t see that one coming.” He loves to swoop in at the end of a scene that seems destined to finish badly and pull it out of the fire.
I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced what I’m talking about, but it happens to me all the time. I was in love with Karen when she got engaged to another man. It seemed impossible that she’d break the engagement and fall for me, but she did (read that story here).
We had sold our house in Florida and couldn’t find a place in Georgia. At the last second, we found it.
Then the whole family had to drive to Mexico for the summer. Karen and I and the five kids were living in a borrowed apartment in Matamoros that got broken into twice. What to do? Like refugees, all seven of us moved to a room at our camp and slept on mats on the floor.
When bad stuff happened, we laid down our expectations and flowed with it. God was training us for a lifetime of depending on him.
I was driving a load of wood across the border to Mexico. My lawyer never showed up with the permit. As my heart was beating out of control, God showed up in the form of a border guard who we waved me on through.
It was one of a hundred instances where it seemed my life was going over a cliff and at the last second God reached down from heaven and saved me. And beyond that, while my heart was still beating from fear and my mind still playing slow-motion replays of what could have happened, he seemed to want me to delight in our adventure together.
Yes, he often answers prayer in ways that don’t require us to extend our faith to the limit. But I’ve detected a pattern that is often present where he doesn’t show up until the curtain is about to fall.
And all of us who have trusted God in these extreme ways are left to ask ourselves, “Why does he do that? It would be so much less stressful if he would not wait till the last possible second.”
My best guess is that whatever is in us that thrills to see a surprise, that loves a happy ending, is in God too. I think he’s a hopeless romantic. He loves to be trusted so much that we’ll do anything for him.
It’s Abraham and Isaac on the mountain. It’s Moses before the Red Sea with Pharaoh bearing down. It’s Elijah dramatically calling fire down on the prophets of Baal. It’s Jesus rising from the dead and promising us we’ll do the same.
Too many of us love a jolly old grandfather of a God. If you’re such a person, I long to introduce you to my overwhelming and terrifyingly unpredictable 11th hour God. What a life he has for those who will trust him radically.