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06 May 2016

Tales of the unexpected

Tales of the unexpected

David Smyth is public policy officer for the Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland

The unpredictable is part of life and the human experience. Very often we fear it, those things which are out of our control and foresight. And yet we love stories which are anything but predictable, that twist and turn in surprising ways. The blindside.

A few tales of the unexpected caught my eye this week…

The back pages became front page news on Tuesday morning after Leicester City won the Premier League on Monday night. The whole team cost about the same as one player from some of the 'top' clubs and the figures speak for themselves. Many are calling it the ultimate football fairytale and in beating odds of 5000:1 this genuine David and Goliath moment has been celebrated far beyond the city limits of Leicester.

It's not often news stories make me laugh out loud but this next one did, a lot. When the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) launched a competition to name its new £200 million boat, I doubt few could have guessed the eventual winner would be Boaty McBoatface. While this was the clear public champion, the final naming decision ultimately lies with the NERC who have decided on RRS David Attenborough. But when launching this innocuous competition, who could have imagined the possibility of MPs discussing Boaty McBoatface at Westminster?

Last Sunday in the Swedish town of Borlange, the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) was holding a demonstration displaying strong links to Neo-Nazism. In an unexpected subversion of the story and of power itself, counter-demonstrator Tess Asplund stood in their way. A parade of three hundred designed to intimidate will be remembered for a protest photograph of one brave woman.

Donald Trump's foray into the presidential campaign began in what many saw as a wildcard satire and parody of American politics. This week things got a lot more serious. While he has come out as the front-runner in the Republican campaign trail, the party still have huge reservations and yesterday it was announced that both former Bush presidents will not endorse him. I'd venture that a few twists and turns remain in this tale.

Yesterday millions of us voted in local council, police commissioner, mayoral, by and devolved Assembly elections. As I write, the results are still coming in thick and fast and despite the predictions of the pollsters, when the public have their say, as we saw during the elections last year and with Boaty McBoatface, there will be a few surprises in store.

The story of God at work in His world is full of the unexpected. From the fall in the garden to the childlessness of Abraham and Sarah. From Joseph in the pit to Rahab and a basket. From slavery to the desert through the sea to the Promised Land. From Jerusalem to Babylon and back again to the ends of the earth. From the baby in a stable to the king who lived and died for his kingdom. A kingdom which is growing and groaning for its king to return.

The story of God redeeming His people and creation is still unfolding. Sometimes the odds look stacked against us and there are many surprises still to come. At this point in the story, in the midst of unpredictability, we are called to keep the faith, to trust in Him who has already told us the final twist in the tale.

"Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" Hebrews 11:1. God is still here, in the unexpected, will we choose to see and trust Him?

Image: CC0 License