Looking out the window this morning I see something unusual in the small house-pasture. I have learned that if I don’t recognize something I need […]
Written by: Mark Eaton< Back to Articles
The Amish rolled in like gangsters. They had a humble swagger and saved the day.
I did not see that coming.
Like Moses, when trapped against the Red Sea when, suddenly, it began to part. Did not see that coming. Neither did the 12 when Jesus quieted the storm. Or Daniel when the lion and he had a sleep over. And Joseph when his brothers showed up hungry after many years of incommunicado. Job did not expect God to sit him down and give him a grand inquisition in the way he did.
The unexpected happens. We don’t expect it. Obviously. It is unexpected. Could not have predicted it. A miracle? Maybe it is. It’s unexpected and has God’s hands all over it.
Here’s a laymen’s version of what happens in humans. We spend a lifetime building a mental map of how life goes. When we see a car driving erratically our mind taps into the map we have constructed that informs us what we should do. Speed up, slow down, exit or ram. Now unless you think I am being absurd, ramming can be a good option. For most of us though, it is not in our map. Unless the car in front of us stops suddenly and four goons get out and come at us with weapons and ill-intent on a boxed-in on-ramp. If we are quick witted, we realize our map must adjust to avoid a car-jacking or worse. For inner-city folks with narrow tunnels and high walls on their freeway ramps, this is not unexpected. It is already mapped. Ram and get gone.
This is, in part, how humans survive. The elephant charges: run. Mapped. The slippery glass drops: attempt to soften the blow with a foot catch. Mapped. A toddler cries: go assess the situation. Mapped. The Pastor is boring: pretend to take notes while making a to-do list. Mapped. Someone asks us a question about our behavior: get defensive, attack, deny, deflect or answer the question. Our response will depend on how we have mapped it.
However, the key to maturation and human growth is the conscious ability to expand, adjust and change our maps. On the west coast of Washington state, the rain means good whitewater, the salmon move upstream, or a powder snow day. In SE Oklahoma rain means grass and fat cattle. It means riding fences and checking water-gaps. I needed to adjust my long-held view of rain.
Beyond that, our minds are also driven to integrity. Minds want to make sense. To be congruent. To have reality match what we want it to be. This has a good affect often. It makes us fight to sort out the world. But it also makes us lazy when we can’t, or sadder, don’t want to. The ‘don’t want to’ happens way more often than most of us think. We tend to draw conclusions quickly based on our mapping. Sometimes we miss. Sometimes, it is a costly miss.
On more than several occasions, I have listened to someone say one version or another of, “I did not see that coming.” It could be because they were not expanding their mapping of the universe around them. The things they saw, felt, or wondered about were not given weight because they did not fit the map, or they were retranslated to fit an existing map.
1. Be constantly updating our maps. Like the map of Cheyenne, WY is not the same as it was in 1867. Updates need to happen or forever be confused about the new traffic roundabouts and the cannon at noon before Susie sings the opening anthem.
2. The world is changing fast. People are adapting, adjusting and growing. Are they coming closer or moving away? Study the culture and the people around us. Notice them. Remap.
3. Stay alert to how we lock our maps down. Pay attention to how often we miss something because we had stopped growing our maps.
About 10 minutes after the Pie Auction started, I had concluded this group was not going to raise much money. Sad. It was a good cause. Then, the local Amish swaggered in. Breads, fried pies, brownies, peach cobblers and other gastronomical bits of heaven were suddenly on the block. The day was saved. The crowd went crazy bidding wild amounts. My map grew in several ways.
Susie and I bought 8 fresh baked Fried Pies for $275. Didn’t see that coming.
Stay open. God often surprises humans.