Be the Surprise – Who . . . Me?

be the surpriseAuthor Terry Esau creates a second refreshing look into active Christianity, and the unexpected journey it can become. Be the Surprise is his second book, following God Surprise Me (2005). Terry’s writing style seemed a bit ADD-ish at first. His book is a collection of short stories, poems, song lyrics and anecdotes supporting the title, asking God to be active and make him the surprise in other people’s lives. After digging into his personal history, I discovered that before becoming an author, Terry wrote commercial jingles. His resulting adjunct writing style doesn’t detract from the book, but rather creates a fun and unexpected delivery, like a memorable bit advertising a new soda pop.

Terry’s theme revolves around giving and receiving. As Christ followers, while we are called to give to others, it seems we easily become focused on receiving. Terry calls giving and receiving Siamese twins, co-joined at the heart. You can’t fully have one without the other. As he talks about his journey from God Surprise Me to Be the Surprise Terry also makes a comparison to the natural process of breathing. A person inhales, which is like watching God work in your life. Exhaling completes the cycle as we take what god has given us, and give of the living waters to someone else. You can’t have one without the other.

The body of the book retells examples of those who chose to be the surprise, and the lessons Terry collected along the way. Almost living parables, Be the Surprise gives the reader uncomplicated illustration of how to be the surprise and unexpectedly give of God’s life. On p.22 Terry quotes one of the people he met along his journey. A woman in a restaurant who bussed tables and washed dishes said “You can’t do good without being good. And God is the good in me.” Through another incident, he was reminded that often Christ followers try too hard to be religious, and impress or influence others. Our goal should be to become transparent, and genuine. Ultimately we are the gift, Christ living in us. We can influence the world and build His kingdom: inhaling and exhaling, giving and receiving.

Terry’s book is a wonderful example of how a Christian’s faith can influence the world, and I recommend it highly. We aren’t called to be blow torches setting the world on fire, or theatrical search lights piercing the night sky in front of some retailer’s sale of the decade. Christ followers are a light set on a table, a city on a hill by which others can find their way home.