How the Bible Preps Us for Surprises


We're starting a 3-week series called Prep, a series of TED talks. Today, we heard from Jonathan Pokluda talking about pornography, John Elmore talking about addiction, and Rick Smith talking about the surprises of life. In this segment, Rick Smith acknowledges that life gives us different surprises, and that sometimes those surprises leave us feeling ripped off. As he takes us through Proverbs 3:5-6, Rick encourages to trust God and believe that he isn't finished unwrapping those challenging surprises.

Rick SmithAug 2, 2015Proverbs 3:5-6

Good morning. As we get started this morning, I have a really important question for you. Who likes surprises? You're into surprise birthday parties. You like to get surprises in the mail. All right. In the red shirt right here, can you come up these stairs? I have something I want to give you. Who else likes surprises? Right here. Can you come up? Yeah, just walk right up these stairs. Don't worry. We have some people to help you. There are no handrails there. We have no waiver, so don't trip. Don't fall. Come on up. I feel like I should do a magic trick here. I'm not going to do a magic trick, though.

Ladies first. I have a surprise for you. Pick one of these. Are you sure? Okay, good choice. All right, hold on to that. I'm going to let you go first. Open it up, and then hold it up for everyone. Like, doves are going to start flying out. All right, so this is a $50 gift certificate to NorthPark. Do you like NorthPark? All right, so that's $50. That's for you. That's a surprise. You go next. That's lunch for your whole family. That is a pack of sardines. There are 25 sardines in there. That has extra olive oil. So go ahead and have a seat. That's for you. Give them a round of applause.

Well, listen. I start this morning off like that because sometimes the surprises in life are sort of like that. Right? Sometimes you get a surprise handed to you and it's everything and more that you wanted, but then sometimes, every once in a while, you get a surprise handed to you and you feel like you might have gotten ripped off. You feel like you might have gotten cheated. In fact, you might even be bitter at the giver of the gift.

I want to tell you about a surprise in my life that really altered my life. It wasn't too long ago. I was in the living room, and I was sitting at the computer, and my wife came into the room with tears of joy on her face. She said, "We're having a baby." It was so awesome. We began to do everything you do when you're getting ready to have a baby. We began to imagine in our mind what our son was going to be like, who he was going to marry, where he was going to go to college.

We began to create this imaginary little boy in our mind. We got all the sonograms you get. The night before our little boy was due, I remember thanking God that we were going to have this healthy typical little boy. All of the sonograms were good. Everything was good, and it was just awesome. We were really praising God for that. So we went into the hospital, and we were there all day, and then I remember the moment they put Noah in my hands. It was so awesome.

Then they took Noah to give him a bath. It was a really long bath. It was three hours long. I guess you come out really dirty. They did that, and then we were in the hospital room, and about three hours later, our pediatrician walks in. I'll never forget this moment. It's ingrained in my mind like it happened yesterday. Our pediatrician walked in. She sits down and says, "Noah has features that are consistent with trisomy 21."

I remember looking at my wife and saying, "What's that?" They said "That's Down syndrome." I remember through the tears saying, "Are you saying that Noah has Down syndrome?" I felt like I'd gotten punched directly in the heart. Have you ever had a surprise like that? Maybe it wasn't a child with Down syndrome, but you're just living your normal life, you're doing what you do every day, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the right hook of life just comes and jars you.

Maybe it's a layoff at your work you never saw coming. Maybe it's somebody in your life who said they loved you and would never leave you and they don't follow through on that promise. What do you do? How do you handle the surprises of life? What we're going to do really quickly this morning… If you have your Bible, grab it. I want you to look at a verse you probably know: Proverbs 3:5.

We're going to look at how Scripture prepares us for the surprises in life, and we're going to see three things. We're going to see what you should always do when surprises come, what you should never do when surprises come, and then I'm going to give you nine words you must always remember when the surprises of life come.

The very first thing you must do always is to trust God. It says it right here. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart…" The very first thing you have to do is trust God, and before you can trust God you have to know God. You can't trust someone you don't know. That means there's a time in your life where you have understood there's a God and it's not you and that your sin has separated you from that God and there's nothing you could do, no amount of good deeds you could ever muster up, to make you right with God and that by grace God sent Jesus to pay for your sins, and you've trusted in Christ.

You put your belief in Christ, and you now have a relationship with God. You know him. Once you know him, you put your heart in his hands. You abide with him, you walk with him, and you trust him no matter what comes in your life. But here's the deal. Sometimes when surprises come surprises can make us fearful, and fear can cause us to be forgetful. I want to give you an illustration this morning to help you remember that you can trust God.

There are thousands of people in this room this morning, and you're sitting in this building that was made of wood and nails and glass and sheetrock, and it was made by a bunch of really imperfect architects you don't even know, and I guarantee you there's not one person in this room this morning who's afraid or worried that this building is going to collapse on us. You have complete trust in an architect you have never met.

If you can trust an architect you have never met, how much more can you trust a God who you do know, a God who loves you and cares about everything going on in your life? So the very first thing you have to do when surprises come is to trust God, but there's another part. Look with me at verse 5. You cannot trust yourself. It says, "…lean not on your own understanding…" Don't trust yourself. See, when surprises in life come, you're going to be tempted to think you know more than God.

You're going to be tempted to think if you were God you would have wrote your story a little bit differently. Maybe you wouldn't have given yourself a child with special needs, Rick, but that's why you and I aren't God. People don't make very good gods. We aren't very wise. God is wise. In fact, if we took all the knowledge from all of the people in this room (and there are some really, really smart people in this room), all of the knowledge in this room wouldn't even be a grain of sand on the beach of the knowledge of God.

God is wise. We aren't wise, so we don't trust ourselves. Todd often says that feelings are real, but they aren't reliable. So you and I aren't to trust what's not reliable. We're to trust what is reliable, and it's the Word of God. You have to trust the giver of the gift. The giver of the gift knows more than you. The giver of the gift knows something you don't, and you trust him. Let me illustrate this for you.

To my friend who had the sardines, can you unwrap the lid of your gift? Just take the wrapping paper off the lid. What you're going to find is that inside the gift there's a treasure. You also have a gift card to NorthPark. You had a treasure the entire time. You had a treasure the entire time, but you weren't finished unwrapping the gift yet. Sometimes God's greatest gifts in our lives take a long time to unwrap.

If you keep trusting him and stop trusting yourself, it says he will make everything make sense. God will allow everything to make sense. Look with me at verse 6. "In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." This is more than just guidance. It literally means that when you trust God he will direct your life. He will take everything in your life and help you make sense of the things that are senseless.

You may be here this morning and you may feel hopeless. You may feel like the odds are stacked against you, but God loves bad odds. When you feel hopeless, that's when hope rushes in. God can take your most fearful moments and make them into beautiful treasures. Let me give you nine words you must always remember. Write these words down. They're really simple, but when the surprises of life come, you're going to need to go back to these words: "Dear God, help me to trust you, not me."

You see, trusting God isn't simple; it's supernatural. It's a supernatural thing to not want to look at things the way you want to look at them and instead trust in God's plan for your life. Trusting God isn't simple; it's supernatural. As you focus on truth instead of fear, your fear will fade and God will allow you to make sense out of every unexpected surprise in your life.

Let me briefly show you how this looks in my life, how God has helped me make sense of the unexpected surprise in my life. This is Noah. Noah is 4-1/2. That 1/2 is really important. He wanted me to tell you that. When Noah was born, we started a ministry called You may not know this, but 92 percent of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. That means every time you see one Noah there are nine Noahs you don't see.

So what we decided to do was create a ministry called We began to celebrate his life. Literally, millions of people around the globe have checked out his ministry. We have emails from people who were going to have an abortion and, because of Noah's story and the hope Noah has given them, decided to choose life instead of death. Noah reaches people all over. He has been featured in Times Square.

Noah now has a baby brother named Jaxten whom he loves. God is using Noah's story in an amazing way. This gift took me a few years to unwrap, but I would not change one chromosome on this little boy. I love this little boy, and I love God for giving him to me. He's a gift in our lives, one of the best things that has ever happened to us. For many of you, you haven't finished unwrapping the gift God has given you. Today for you is delivery day, and I get that.

You feel hopeless and fearful and scared and worried and that no one understands what you're going through, and I get it. Listen. God understands, and you're not alone. I want to encourage you today to keep trusting God. Stop trusting yourself, and ask God to supernaturally help you to trust him. He holds the whole world in his hands. That includes you and me and Noah. Can we pray?

Father, we thank you for your Word. We thank you that you haven't left us to figure out life on our own. I pray for friends here today who aren't finished unwrapping the gift yet. For them it's hard, and they don't see the end in sight. I pray today that you would comfort them. I pray today that you would turn their eyes toward Jesus. I pray that you'd put community around them that would help remind them of truth we just talked about, and I pray that they would supernaturally trust you. We thank you for Jesus, and we thank you for the Holy Spirit, amen.