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Mon, Aug 7th, 2023

“I Would Rather Be Surprised!”

Recently I have become more aware of how often the phrase “worst case scenario” is used in conversation to describe impending doom. It appears that when an exact set of circumstances seem to be ready to collide, an immediate label that is applied by the one telling the story describes an almost certain catastrophe.

With a little research, I found that the phrase first appeared in the early 1970s to warn the American people that if a certain military situation occurred, this most definitely would result in the very worst possible outcome. Perhaps our human propensity to believe the worst grabbed onto the phrase because following its attachment to military and political arenas, “worst case scenario” began to spread to everyday conversation.

What is the value of racing to catastrophic thinking? What does this do to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being? I began to ask myself some probing questions.  If my world turns upside down, why do I rush to “gloom and doom?” How does the shadow of hopelessness impact my responses?

Along that line, however, it is just as possible, that if I concoct the “worst” it can be, I can also put on my “hero” cape to create a plan on how exactly, Jane is going to save the day!  Shall we say…..Jane can then decide if I am going to be the “victim” or the “hero”. Just sayin’. 

Please indulge me for a few moments more….you see, my birthday was July 28th and I turned 72 years young. The date is important because each year before my birthday arrives, I have an opportunity to “reset” any “worst case scenario” thinking that may have crept into my thought process.

Each year about a week or so prior to my birthday, an amazing flower called “Surprise Lily” springs up, literally overnight all over our town. Not every yard, of course, is host to these groups of pink blooms, but their appearance is dramatic and eye-catching, nonetheless. The “surprise” part comes from the fact, that one day they are not present…..and the next morning….there they are….beautiful pink flowers perched on what appears to be a fragile brown straw about two feet tall. There is no green foliage, only the straw stem and the gorgeous pink lily on top. Surprise!

Obviously, it is automatic that I would be looking for them each year since my birthday is my “placeholder”, right? But the reality is that there is a faith and hope process attached to their appearance.  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 

Perhaps one of the strongest weapons I have in my artillery against catastrophic “worst case scenario” thinking is the existence of the Surprise Lily. I am reminded by their existence that the God of the Universe, my Sovereign Lord, is going to surprise me at any moment with His appearance, with His intervention in my life, with His statement of assurance. There is no need to participate in “worst case scenario” thinking when I am assured that at any moment in the midst of adversity, I can sense His presence and walk in peace.

Just as quickly as they appear, however, within a few weeks, the Surprise Lily will also fade away. How sad, you may say, that they do not remain to continually provide encouragement.  What is just as amazing is another name that is assigned to the Surprise Lily. They are also called the “Resurrection Lily”, and won’t that just preach! For although my ability to see them lasts for only a few weeks each summer, the seed is ever-present. The fact that they return each year is because the seed remains in the soil, and they “come to life”, they are resurrected.

Pretty certain, I’ve made the point. It’s my choice. It’s your choice. 

Life happens. Lots of events connect that can create a “worst-case scenario”.

But the seed of hope remains. I choose to believe that Jesus will surprise me in ways I cannot begin to imagine. There is no other Name. My heart is encouraged. My joy is strengthened each time I see one of those amazing flowers. Not everyone will ascribe the same meaning to them, but, just ask…..He has a weapon for you to destroy the “worst case scenario” thinking….and He will tell you exactly what it is. No doubt about it!

Jane Pfefferkorn