Saturday, January 1, 2011

Surprised by Cake

Happy New Year, everyone! Welcome to 2011. A Space Odessey. No, I’m just kidding! But, for those of us born in the good ol’ 19-somethings, it sounds like a futuristic space movie, doesn’t it? 2011. Weird.

As most do, we’ve been reflecting over the last week about what happened in our family in 2010. It’s amazing how quickly we forget all of the things that transpire in a relatively short period of time. For us, 2010 included a 10-day kid-free trip to Hawaii, the birth of an adorable nephew, the wedding of a dear friend, a family vacation to Washington, D.C., my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary celebration, my dad’s retirement, and the unexpected conception of two close friends’ babies (second-rounders…I mean the “I-thought-we-were-done…our-youngest-child-is-seven” kind). So many great things happened this year. But, in the Bryan Moran family, our standards are kind of low. It seems like a red-letter year when we go 12 months without a major tragedy. We still have had lots of crying and fighting through to do, but no new junk to deal with. We consider that a really good thing. I would like to see about 10 more years in a row like that. God knows I’ve asked Him for it.

But, the truth is that none of us knows what 2011 will bring. With God, we are on a “need to know” basis. Our great adventure with Him does not include a lot of advanced warning, does it?

Two nights ago we went bowling for my sister-in-law’s birthday. When we left the bowling alley, we got in the car and headed to a family member’s home for birthday cake. From the back seat of the van, my girls piped up. “Hey, we didn’t know we were going to Aunt Tricia’s for cake! Nobody told us!” My dad remarked, “Well, you didn’t need to know. All you need to do is to be surprised by cake.”

It was a simple comment, really. But, it was profound. Really profound. My kids are on a “need to know” basis with us. We are their parents. We love them with a fierce love. We know what is going to happen next, and most of the time, the kids don’t need advanced warning. They live in a trusting relationship with us. We know what they need, and we provide it. And, sometimes, we bless them unexpectedly.

There may just be a theme here, because, again, I am challenged to relate to God like a trusting child. I am to live my life with abandon, following God wherever He leads. Heck, I don’t know where that is!! But, it can’t hurt me to trust Him. “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). I’ve heard that verse a million times, but it strikes me differently today. Take the first phrase, for instance. “I know the plans I have for you.” The key lies in who the “I” is. It is the God of the universe talking to me here! And, He knows what He is doing. Nothing is an accident. I don’t need to know what is going to happen because God already does. And, he intends to use everything that happens to me—good or bad—to prosper me. That doesn’t need to make sense to me. I just need to believe it. If God loves me and God is in control, then what do I have to lose by trusting Him with my whole heart?

In keeping with that attitude, I’m excited about this year. I know my Heavenly Father better than I ever have before. The One who says, “I know the plans I have for you,” loves me with a fierce love. He wants to prosper me, no matter what comes. And, He will.

With Bryan and I as their parents, Caroline and Mary Claire are free. They are free to play and have fun and enjoy life. They are free to learn and grow and try new things and make mistakes. They are free to dream and to hope and to explore everything life has to offer. In the arms of my Heavenly Father, I’m free, too.

In 2011, and for time and eternity, all I need to do is to be surprised by cake.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
--Ephesians 3:20-21

Dive—Steven Curtis Chapman

“The long awaited rains
Have fallen hard upon the thirsty ground
And carved their way to where
The wild and rushing river can be found
And like the rains
I have been carried here to where the river flows yeah
My heart is racing and my knees are weak
As I walk to the edge
I know there is no turning back
Once my feet have left the ledge
And in the rush I hear a voice
That's telling me it's time to take the leap of faith
So here I go

I'm diving in I'm going deep in over my head I want to be
Caught in the rush lost in the flow in over my head I want to go
The river's deep the river's wide the river's water is alive
So sink or swim I'm diving in

There is a supernatural power
In this mighty river's flow
It can bring the dead to life
And it can fill an empty soul
And give a heart the only thing
Worth living and worth dying for yeah
But we will never know the awesome power
Of the grace of God
Until we let ourselves get swept away
Into this holy flood
So if you'll take my hand
We'll close our eyes and count to three
And take the leap of faith
Come on let's go”

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