Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Last night we had a surprise party for a friend. We were celebrating a milestone in his life. Not a birthday, but the joy in seeing years of work bring to fruition, an intended goal.

Have you ever been to one of these? You have to be sneaky about where you park. You have to iron out many details in advance to make sure of things like, what door they will enter, will the alarm be turned off when the "surprisers" arrive, what time they will actually return, etc.

It was crazy. We gathered half an hour early to be sure we were all in. For some reason, there are always the obligatory "late arrivals" that threaten to blow the whole thing up. No matter, it came off as expected...completely.

This was an easy party to pull off because my friend does not pay attention to details. There were many "tells" throughout the day and evening that could have given it away. However, this particular party had something going for it that would help a non-detail person remain clueless.

One of the children of our "victim" was celebrating a birthday this same evening. As a matter of fact, that is how we got them out of the house.

Under the influence of their own celebration, when the family returned, the doors opened and everyone jumped out and screamed "SURPRISE!" my friend turned around to look for his child. It was a long awkward pause. This father in that moment thought he had completely missed out on all word and all planning of his child's surprise birthday party, and not wanting to spoil it, surely thought we were a bunch of dolts for yelling before the child had come near the door.

The fact was, this child had the idea of this celebration and was intentionally "hanging back" so that dad could be surprised.

We had to convince him that the celebration was on his behalf and not his child's. That took several moments. It was the kind of thing that could have been a party killer, but instead added to the humor of the moment. The dazed, lost look in his eyes was priceless. He absolutely had no clue what had happened.

The impish grin that consumed his lost frame, was then covered by an embarrassed demeanor. All these people were here to see him! It was suddenly a bit overwhelming. We had to make up a "congratulations" song to prove to him that it was his evening. Unfortunately, the candles melted into puddles of wax on his cake while we were figuring it out.

Though he is not detail oriented, he is known for always figuring things out in advance. A sort of spiritual gift, if you will. The kind that drives family and friends crazy, because surprising him is difficult. No, not difficult...impossible. He has an uncanny ability to figure gifts out before they are opened. He routinely knows what he is holding, much to the dismay of hopeful onlookers.

Not this night. For the gift of this night was not to be unwrapped, but was in the element of surprise. I think his family was very pleased. They had finally done it!

So on this evening that we celebrated his achievement, we also celebrated theirs. It was a worthy event.

It was great to be a part of celebrating this father's achievement. However, there are those times when achievements cause us to be blind to the Father.

It is far too easy for us to be wrapped in the glory of our own celebrations and miss out on the Father's intended purpose for us. In these moments, I wonder if He gets confused. I imagine he is mostly disappointed.

It is too easy to push for and seek our own agendas when we have our eyes on a prize. It is urgent that we redirect our efforts and seek to celebrate Him, and not ourselves.