Surprised by Life

By Lauren M.

My friend Biday asked for goldfish during our group’s Christmas exchange gift several years ago. Our friend, who happened to pick Biday’s name, asked me if I could keep the fish she bought overnight before the day of our Christmas party, so into our aquarium the fishies went. When I woke up the next day, however, I discovered that some of the guest fish… ate some of my tiny fish. (No grudges against my friends πŸ™‚ Just using this as an anecdote…).

20121228 - Photo by Lauren M. - Surprised by Life

These aren’t the fish-eating fish from the story, but my fish from a different Christmas. I just wanted them to be models πŸ™‚

During a Christmas exchange gift with another group years ago, another friend requested for a rabbit. The person who picked the rabbit lover’s name also asked me to keep the bunny she got overnight before the day of our Christmas party. I will spare you the details of my bonding with the furball, but let’s just say that, if I considered keeping a cute fluffy rabbit as a pet before this incident, I stopped doing so afterwards :p

Living creatures may do unexpected things, so sometimes, inanimate objects may make tamer gifts. However, living creatures can also make us smile in ways that inanimate objects cannot, so they can make lovable gifts too.

What about life in general? Life… well, it can surprise us, both in pleasant ways and unpleasant ones. Real living and real loving can make us laugh, but it can also make us cry. It seems safer at times just to exist and hide in our emotional shells than to truly live. But Jesus encourages and enables people, then and now, to live life to the full anyway.

Peter wanted to return to his old fishing career after he denied Jesus; he was determined to drown his feelings of failure through sheer hard work. Jesus forgave Peter and restored him (John 21:3-22). And Jesus enabled Peter to carry out his true calling: to play an important role in turning the world upside down for Christ.

The Samaritan woman continued to enter into romantic relationships in spite of the failure of her previous relationships; she was determined to carry out her search for acceptance. Jesus gave the Samaritan woman unconditional forgiveness and acceptance. And Jesus enabled her, the former social outcast who could not even join the other women when they fetched water from the well, to lead her community to the Source of living water (John 4:6-42).

Nicodemus valued his religion so much that he hid under the cover of darkness when he first went to see Jesus (John 3:1-21); he was determined to protect his reputation even though he knew deep down that Jesus held the real answers to his questions. Jesus shook the Pharisee’s traditional religious beliefs and helped him to understand the true spirit of worship. And Jesus enabled Nicodemus to be bold enough to identify himself with Jesus in front of the Romans during a time when most of His own apostles were still in hiding (John 19:38-42).

Jesus, who loves goldfish, rabbits and especially people, came to give us true life. Jesus is Life.

Wishing you all a life full of adventure and surprises with Jesus this coming New Year. Merry Christmas and a Joyful New Year from Shepherd’s World!

β€œI have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

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