It is the season of Epiphany, a time when God shows up in surprising places and pushes against the walls of our constructed realties. God shows up as a baby born in a stable to poor devout parents and soon people of different races, ethnicities, cultures and social standing are flooding the stable to worship an infant, and perhaps to see one another in a different light for the first time. God shows up in the temple as a twelve-year-old boy having intense theological dialogue with the wise and seasoned old men of faith and those who are present can never look at a pre-teen in the same way again because paradigms have shifted and suddenly lessons can be learned in surprising places from the most unexpected people. A prophet is preaching fire and brimstone when God shows up asking to be baptized like a common man, and soon people will have to wonder about what must change in their own lives if God has proven that nothing is too lowly for a servant of heart and a spirit of love.
When God shows up somewhere everything is altered, including our sense of self and responsibility, and how we live with others. And sometimes we discover a new longing to loosen our life-choking grip on our fears, our distrusts and our rigid sense of expectation. When God shows up God has a way of making us more willing to risk our comfort and our routine.
I wonder what kind of life I would have to lead for God to say something similar about me, for God to be surprised, in a good way, about the places at which I am showing up and the ways I am pushing against whatever expectations God has grown accustomed to having of me. Maybe God is getting used to finding me in Church on Sundays but would be pleasantly surprised to find me teaching Sunday school or tithing regularly. Maybe God is used to finding me amongst my wonderful group of friends who share the same faith and seem to have the same values and lifestyle. But maybe God would be caught off guard if I started spending time with people who were not like me spiritually, socio-economically, and culturally. I don’t know. I am thinking aloud. Maybe surprising God and keeping God on God’s proverbial toes would simply take a number of small gestures of stretching my communal boundaries, of asking more honest questions aloud and seeking discipline and accountability in my efforts to change a few habits. It would be different for each of us depending on our gifts, our season of life and how the Spirit convicts us. But it’s worth asking the question isn’t it? Where would God be surprised and relieved of heart to find ME? If these little gestures and changes in habit lead me to new places and keep me open to surprise epiphanies maybe God and I will meet one another where we both least expect it.
1. Where do you imagine God would be surprised, in a good way, to find you?
2. What small gestures or habits would you need to practice or quit in order to find yourself in new places, open for new growth and new glimpses of God?
3. Is there one person in your life with whom you can share this devotional and reflect on the questions? In other words, who helps keep you accountable?
For more from Emuma Okoro, go to Reluctant Pilgrim.