Do you like to be surprised? If you’re like me, your answer is, “it depends.” I NEVER liked having my brothers jump out of the dark to scare me when we were growing up. I ALWAYS like finding money in coat pockets when the seasons change. I love getting a cheerful card in the mail from a dear friend “just because,” but I don’t like getting bad news (does anyone?).
The element of surprise is a necessity when writing or reading a story. Whether good or bad (preferably both), surprises keep the reader interested. The surprise may shock them, something they didn’t see coming, so they keep reading to find out what happens to the character they’ve come to care about. An unexpected twist to the plot keeps the reader up long past bedtime – the excitement of seeing that character about to grasp their dream (that the reader has also been waiting for) and then the devastation of having it ripped away.
This is what keeps a reader reading – and a writer writing. When an author is writing a new story, and realizes they’re getting bored, that’s a good indicator the storyline needs a surprise or two. Perhaps the characters is about to get what they’ve been working toward throughout the book. And if they do? The story ends. So the author needs to throw in a twist or two, to keep the reader interested as the characters struggle over, through, or around yet another obstacle on the way to their dream.
Life is like that too, isn’t it? We work hard to achieve our dreams, to reach a goal, to finish a job. We accept a new position but it turns out to be far different than we expected. We plan a beautiful wedding and then find out marriage actually takes work. We diligently save money but the stock market has a hiccup and we have to start over. Life is full of surprises, with twists and turns that might seem unbelievable in fiction but are unfortunately (or fortunately) real life. Like the characters in our books, if we face the difficulties and find a way through them, we come out stronger in the end. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. How? Because we have a secret weapon – a God who has promised to walk beside us every step of the way. A God who delights in surprising us.
This past weekend, we celebrated the ultimate surprise – the Resurrection. Though Jesus had told His disciples all that would transpire, there was no way they could truly understand. So when He died on the cross, His followers were devastated. Their hopes and dreams died on the cross with Him. Their mentor, teacher and friend was gone. That was just not supposed to happen; at least, it wasn’t in their plans.
Yet while they were still shocked and mourning, the Author of Life threw in a twist no one saw coming. Jesus, who had actually died on the cross and been buried in a tomb, was ALIVE! An amazing turn of events that has kept the world riveted ever since. A man who had walked this earth and lived daily life like all of us had died, but then rose to life again to offer us hope and joy, and the promise of eternity with Him. Now that is truly a page turner! Hallelujah!
What twists and turns has your life taken recently? What surprises are you dealing with? We’d love to celebrate those happy surprises with you, and pray for you over the others.