An Unexpected Surprise

December 12, 2022


When I facilitate opening devotions with my SoCo Beach Project team, I use an opening question that everyone answers—and I do this with a variety of goals in mind. 

In this way, every voice is heard from the outset of the meeting. The members learn more about each other, beyond just the business of the agenda.  It offers a transitional space in which they are engaged to move them mentally into the meeting.  And it gives them the opportunity to practice talking about their faith in a conversational setting.

Opening Question:    As you look back on your life, what was an experience, a place or someone that was an unexpected positive surprise?

For me, it was an unexpected person.  I had just started seminary, my first semester, the first day of Introductory Hebrew.  We were encouraged to find a study-buddy for the semester.  The woman beside me was friendly, approachable, and new like me. 

But there was another woman behind me.  She came across boisterous, with an obvious southern twang, dripping with confidence – and to be honest, she intimated me.  I immediately connected with the first woman…but to my chagrin, she dropped the class by the end of the week.  And so, it defaulted to the other woman. 

Wouldn’t you know it? We became fast friends.  During my time at seminary, she was one of my go-to people and eventually we developed a spiritual accountability relationship.  Even after seminary, we kept in touch—so much so that she was one of my bridesmaids. 

And even more surprising, her son was a participant in last summer’s SoCo Beach Project!  Who would have thought?!?

In this season of Advent, we delve into the stories of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, wisemen, Simeon and Anna…all who experienced unexpected surprises. 

Elizabeth having a baby after being barren so many years? It even left Zechariah speechless!

Mary pregnant and Joseph not the father? Yup – took an angel and a dream to convince these two of this supernatural reality.

Shepherds who were stunned by an angelic choir and then off to see a baby in a manger. 

Wisemen following a star of all things, in search of a king.  Simeon and Anna seeing their hopes and dreams in a wiggly squealing little baby boy!  

 In our leadership roles, how can we stay open and hopeful to the unanticipated surprises that God may foist upon us – being at the ready to say “yes” to God’s work in, among and sometimes, despite us?

Let’s go back to that opening question:  As you look back on your life, what was an experience, a place or someone that was an unexpected positive surprise?

Devotional By Willemina Zwart

Willemina Zwart is an ordained pastor in the CRC living in Port Dover, Ontario, with her husband, Kelly Sibthorpe and their puppy, Pearl.  She is the missional pastor of the SoCo (South Coast) Beach Project, a four-month spring/summer discipleship and faith formation experience for young adults as they live in intentional Christian community while working summer jobs.  She also works part-time as a Resonate Local Missional Leader.

Share your thoughts

  1. Thank you. Yes I have had many such surprising relationships. That later I thought who would have thought??? Thanks God for overriding my selection processes in relationships!!