Life is full of surprises. In counseling, I have often heard, “This is not at all what I signed up for.” We’ve all said a similar thing at different points in our journey through life. Life is full of curve balls.

Who would sign up for something he/she knows nothing about? Not many of us. Yet the unexpected is, arguably, what defines life. No person knows the future and no one can predict what life will throw their way.

If life is full of the unexpected, how do we prepare? How do we learn to handle the shock and awe of life? The cancer, accident or death. It is never expected. As Jesus followers, how do we position ourselves to learn the most from the unexpected?

The unexpected of our lives is often what either derails us or focuses us. Our reaction to the unplanned often defines the direction of our future. How many people do we know that have never gotten over that divorce, betrayal or firing?

It’s December and I’m rereading the Christmas Story in Luke 1. What an amazing story of unexpected encounters. Zacharias enters the Temple that fateful day, never planning to encounter an angel. Elizabeth never planned on getting pregnant well into her 60’s or 70’s. Mary didn’t have a clue that the archangel Gabriel would show up and tell her that she, a virgin, would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit, with God’s son! In each case, they are dumbfounded, fearful and doubting.

Mary gives us a glimpse into how we might navigate the unexpected in our lives. She responds to the news of her impending pregnancy with these amazing words: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38, ESV). Mary knows her identity and is prepared for the unexpected through obedience. There is a raw trust in her that is compelling. Her obedience to God’s Word is based in her conviction of being a servant. Might we learn from Mary?

As we move into the new year, are you prepared for some big surprises? They are coming. Expect the unexpected.



Steve Holt M.A., D.D.

My newest book, Worshipper Warrior, can be found at