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The Spiritual Practice of NOT Being Surprised by God


I’ve been reading the Book of Acts lately, trying to figure out what a life that follows the Spirit looks like.


As a person of faith, I’m called to follow God—to live into a free, empowered, and God-near life. I want this. So, I’m reading Acts to see how it has happened in the past.


This morning, I read the Apostle Peter’s words—spoken to a gobsmacked crowd who just witnessed the healing of a lame man; “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” (Acts 3:12).


Who asks this kind of question? Can you imagine being so in tune with God’s presence that the miraculous healing of a lame (from birth) man doesn’t surprise you?


Lame people walk in the Kingdom of God; and blind people see. God is active and present in the world and moves in power. Clearly Peter could see this. He wasn’t surprised that God would do something like this. Imagine possessing this kind of faith—where powerful moves of God are seen as commonplace!


Clearly this was not the case for the surprised crowd. They had no category for a God who moves in the world in this way. So, they credited Peter (and John) for what happened—thinking that it was their power and godliness that made the man walk.


I’ve been there, living life with no imagination for God—operating as though I understood how everything worked. Standing with that crowd now, I find myself wanting what Peter had—a greater knowledge of what was going on, a truer understanding of reality.


How do I get there?


Believing that God does move in the world, I suppose I could expect these things more; people miraculously healed of their anxiety, marriages saved, and hearts restored. When it happens, I could be quicker to attributethese restorative acts to God, and then take the time to stare at him and recognize his power and Godliness.


Maybe I could start by looking for glimmers—small pointers of God’s presence that add up to a clearer picture. One way to prime myself for this kind of seeing is by looking back. In the bible, God repeatedly calls us to remember. When we remember ways that God has moved in the past, we have more with which to see God moving today.


So, what if you made this a spiritual practice? Take a moment and collect all the God-moments from your life. Then stack them up and then stand on them. What can you see from this new perspective? How does seeing God in the past help you see God today? Write down your responses.


And then look forward. According to the scriptures, our earthly lives are a snap-of-the-fingers in the scope of eternity. One day you’ll see God clearly, all the time, and in every way.

Ponder that as you remember. Let the future pull you into God’s presence.


Then, as you look back and look ahead, look around. What do you see? Where is God moving today?

 

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