I wrote last week about Sarah, my Biblical namesake, the original Princess. I wrote about how she laughed when God told her He would give her a son. She laughed in cynicism, laughed in discomfort. She was totally uncomfortable with the way her nihilism had been confronted, with the way hope was springing into being within her.
When she gave birth to their son, of course, she named him Isaac. Isaac means He laughs.
Genesis 21:6-7 are my favorite parts of what I read this morning. In verse 6, she says that people around her will laugh over her. That is, they will rejoice over her. I just love that. She looks forward to the joy of her friends and compatriots, maybe even of her husband. Her heart sings with the idea that someone might rejoice on her behalf, laughing as they stand over the labor bed with joy and the utter absurdity of God.
Yes, absurdity, for the next words out of Sarah's mouth ask a beautiful question. "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?" In other words, Who would have believed it? Who would have thought it likely? Who would even have thought it possible? In my mom's words, Who'da thunk?
"Yet here I have borne him a son in his old age," she says. Yet here we are.
You can almost hear her shaking her head with a grin spreading across her wrinkled face. She smiles ruefully at herself. Who would have believed it, she says. Who would ever have thought. No one, that's who. No one would have believed that. Even Sarah herself was a cynic. Maybe I shouldn't say "even Sarah" -- she probably had the most cause to be cynical. After all, it was her body. She was the one living in it, moving around in it. She knew its limits.
Or did she?
Who would have thought it likely, let alone possible?
I have learned that God takes what we see as the least likely scenario and brings it to pass.
Maybe it doesn't work that way in everyone's lives, but it does in mine.
The scenario I forswore, the one I vowed up and down would never come to be, by the sheer strength of my will. Or the one that I never considered. My daddy always says "Never say never," because you never know when you're going to have to eat those words. I've eaten mine a lot recently.
God has brought to pass circumstances and occurrences in my life that I would never have dreamed of -- or if I DID dream them, they were the stuff of nightmares, and I vowed never to let them come to pass. Either way, they were scenarios that I would not allow into my well-ordered world.
You see, I think I've got a handle on it. I feel like I've got this thing figured out.
And then God comes along, holds my hands, and gently shatters it into a thousand tiny pieces, and my whole conception of the world, of my life -- it changes.
Not all at once, not overnight. Slowly. The slow work of a stained glass window being assembled by hand.
And I love stained glass.
And then those things that I swore up and down would never happen to me if I had anything to say about it? Those things that had never even entered the realm of possibility for me until they were all too real and looking at me in the face, close-up, drool dripping from their fangs?
Those things, those monsters turn out to be the Wild Things, and they lead me on an adventure journey greater than any I could have planned for myself.
And we dance all night and all day, and we care not who sees us, because my life is going unexpectedly anyway, and because of that, I am free.
My life isn't what I expected, and so I don't have to keep up any pretense, and so I am free.
It's the weirdest logic, that the things we never wanted, never allowed ourselves -- how could they fill us up and empty us at the same time? How could they fill us up in such a way that we cannot even wish our own ideas to come true?
Because we see the beauty of what has happened to us.
I often say I wouldn't change anything that's happened to me in my life. This isn't me bragging on myself; it's simply true. I am so simply glad at the way my story has played out, at the way God has moved in my life in the least likely ways. I cannot even wish to change it. I like my life the way it is, to be honest, and how otherwise can I -- how could I wish anything different?
What I'm trying to say here is that God's logic is not our logic. His ways are not our ways. And what looks absurd to us makes perfect sense to Him.
What is the least likely option to us, either due to life circumstances or to the force of our own will (which, in the end, is like a feather against a great wooden door wrought with iron hinges) -- what seems like the least likely option to us is, to Him, perfect. It fits us like a glove. It's the missing piece we never thought to look for.
So I'm learning.
I'm learning to be open to the least likely thing. The thing I would never have picked for myself. Over the last year, I've found myself saying things like this to people: It's not the story I would have written for myself, but it's been absolutely the best thing to ever happen to me. So I'm learning to pay attention to what I want least, or what seems like the last thing I would choose -- and then I'm learning to look at it a little closer. See what it is I'm afraid of. See what seems prohibitive about it. Then, maybe -- maybe I will see I don't need to fear it after all. Maybe I will see that it's actually the best thing.
Of course, I'm not good at this yet, so maybe what will actually happen is that I will get slapped upside the head with something else. Like the way the Ninevites slap each other with fishes in the VeggieTales version of Jonah hashtag church brat alert.
All I know is that what I least expect is what God will probably bring. So maybe it's beside the point for me to examine the things I think are least likely, because I know He'll keep surprising me.
But really, isn't that part of the fun?
Isn't that part of the surprise?
It's no secret how much I love Christmas. This is like Christmas all the dang time, y'all. It's surprise, it's joy, it's unexpectedness. It's constant unwrapping of the gift. It's living in constant Advent.
(Advent is my favorite liturgical season, for those who don't know. If you're new here, wait till Advent. I get super excited and introspective at the same time.)
So I am learning. I am paying attention. I'm not good at it yet. But I don't think that's what's expected of me.
What's expected of me is just to say yes.
Like a little child.
Let's say yes. Let's say yes with all our hearts and lungs to the least likely things.
May we let ourselves be surprised.
As Emily P. Freeman says, "May His grace surprise you kindly." Because, really, that's what the least likely things are. They're grace in disguise. We are being rescued from ourselves.
May His grace surprise you kindly. Let's say yes.